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LETFERS FROM A SON 



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SELF-MADE FATHER 



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' ^-etters from a Son to 
His Self-Made Father 



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CHAkLES EUSTACrC MERRIMAN 



Heing the Replies to 
f'^T^Rs/rom a Seli.-Made 

MtK CHANT to ois SoN 




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' ^"/"v ,?:, ,1i., ,, 



\Letters from a Son to\ 
His Self-Madc Father 



^/ 



CHARLES EUSTACE MERRIMAN 



Being the Replies to 
LETTEKs/rom a Self-Made 
Merchant to his Son 



lllustralunt bj 
FRED KULZ 



Montreal 

The Montreal New, Companv. U^„^^ 

1904 







BXintY O. PAOANI.- 



Batered M 

STATIONBR8 HAlx. 

All lUzhu Ratmd. 



TO 

. iBatft Uwatn 

^ XEAOr-MADS WIT 



ILL USTRA TIONS. 



"The Son" in CoUege. 
His CoUege GirL 

" 7^ Son" as a Travetting Salesman. 
His Society Gift. 

"The Son" as Manager of His Father's Pork- 
packing Establishment. 

The Girl He Marries. 



LETTER NO. L 



LETTER No. I. 

Piemponi Graham, a newly fledged Freshman 

at Harvard, writes his father, John, in 

Chicago, how he and the University 

are getting alonf together. 

Cambridge, Oct. lo, 189 — 
Dear Father: 

I know you will accuse me of lack of the 
business promptness which is the red label 
on your brand of success, but I really 
couldn't answer your letter before. I have 
been trying to reconcile your maxims of 
life with the real thing, and I had to get 
busy and keep so. Reconciliation has not 
yet come, leastwise not so as you would 
notice it. 

I'm glad Ma got back safe to the stock- 
yards, for when she left Cambridge that 
morning she didn't quite feel as if she 
would. I thought she had too large a roll 
to be travelling around the country with, 
and convinced her that she ought to leave 
all but j8 and her return ticket with me. 
Its a great thing to have a good mother. 



IQ 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



I have already taken quite a course in 
art, fitting up my new flat; the feiiows go 
in quite strong for art here, and it really is 
one of the most expensive courses in the 
curriculum, for although the photographers 
make special rates to the students, models 
come high. 

You will be glad to hear that I shook the 
room in College Hall that Ma picked out 
for me, and by extraordinary luck secured 
a small apartment of five rooms and bath in 
one of the big dormitories. The dingy hole 
in " College " was so horribly noisy that I 
found it impossible to do my best work. 
The building was fairly infested with " plug- 
gers," whose grinding made day and night 
hideous. Here I can work in peace and 
get a raft of culture from my art studies 
and other beautiful surroundings. I have 
had the bill for fitting up forwarded to you. 
Please settle within thirty days, or I shall 
be terribly disturbed in my course. 

Tell Ma not to worry about my over- 
studying. I have too much inherited com- 
mon sense for that. It's a wise pig that 
knows when he is being crammed for John 
Graham's lightning sausage developer; 
I've heard the squeal- As for under-study 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



II 



— well, as Kip says, that's another floor to 
the building. 

I tail to find education as "good and 
plenty" at Harvard as you seem to think it 
Some of it may be good, but it certainly 
isn't plenty, and it isn't passed around with 
the term bills. There's a fellow in our dor- 
mitory — one of the "pluggers'^ who es- 
caped from College Hall — who is hot after 
education, and they say he has to dig for it. 
1 haven't dug yet, although I had a spade 
given me last night Unfortunately, what 
I needed just then was a club. 
I You will be pleased to hear that I have 
already added several extra elective courses 
to my studies. I am especially interested 
in the topography course, in which we are 
making a careful study of Boston streets. 
I am glad to say that I am making rapid 
strides in the same. For this no text-books 
are required, but the experimental apparatus 
is quite expensive- On our last tour of in- 
spection we all required lanterns. I paid 
$10 and costs for mine, and it stood me $$ 
more to square things with the driver of 
the herdic for a window broken while mak- 
ing a particularly interesting experiment 
I feel that I am learning rapidly. I know 



13 



"TTERS FROM A SON 



the value of money as never before. Monev 
talks here quite as much as in Chica^o^ 
not so budly. perhaps, but faster. As you' 
have always advised me to be socSble I 

snare m the pecuniary conversatio-i esoe^ 
c.ally as in all our little gatherin^'E 

Z^^Si '''"?' '?^"°"' whose money 
aoesn t talk even in signs 

Taking it by and larg^. as you say so 
often. Harvard seems all right, although the 
fellows say the tenn hasn't really opened 
as there's nothing doing yet in the kS' 
mate drama m the Boston theatres. They 
have a queer - ustom of colloquial abbreviS 
K,nhere-theycallit';ieg.dLa.»^^^^^^^^^^^ 
snow. Cunous, isn't it? 

JLrA l^"^ ""y ^''^ °f mind, dear 
!tori« .°" ' """c" *"y '"°'-« ^ducat;d pfg 
stones to me. Such anecdotes strike me 
as verging c ose on personalities, "n fact 
the whole pig question just now hits meS 
a ender spot. Even the pen I amusing 
makes me shudder. I hate to look a giff 
hog in the mouth, but I wish you had made 

JnvfK^ .t\'" ''°^' °' P^'^"' "medicine, or 
anything hat wasn't porcine. Fact is. I've 
got a nickname out of your business, and 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 13 

»'„.**"^'' *° *''^* ^^^" yo*"" boss hogman. 
Milligan, couldn't scald it off. 

You see, I board at Memorial Hall with 
about 1 199 other hungry wretches, and 
let me tell you that your yarns about old 
Lem Hostitter and his skin-bruised hams 
wouldn't go for a cent here. Memorial is 
the limit for bad grub, a.id thereby hangs 
a curly iail. The other day at dinner, things 
were so rotten that an indignation meeting 
was held on the spot, and a committee of 
investigation was appointed to go to the 
kitchen and see what kind of vile stuff was 
being shovelled at us. 

There must have been a rough-house in 
the culinary cellar, for we heard a tremen- 
dous racket in which the crash of crockery 
and the banging of tin predominated. 
Pretty soon the committee came back bring- 
ing a dozen or so of cans, waving them 
about and yelling like Indians. When they 
got near enough for me to see, I shuddered, 
for on every blessed can of them was your 
label, father — that old red steer pawing the 
ground as if he smelt something bad. 

Just one table away from me the gang 
stopped, and a fat senior they call " Hippo " 
Smith rapped for order. Even . ' 's in 
the gallery quit gabbling. 



«4 



LKITKKS >KUM A bUM 



"Gentlemen," yelled the senior, "your 
committee begs leave to report that it has 
discovered the abominable truck that h-'s 
been ruining our palates and torturing .r 

itals. It's these cans of trichinated pork, 
uiiclassable sausages and mildewed beef 
thai have made life a saturnalia of dyspep- 
sia for us, and every one of 'em bears the 
label ' Graham & Company, Chicago.'" 

Thenyou ought to have heard the roaring. 

" Down with Grdham & Co. I " " Let's go 
to Chicago and lynch Graham." "Con- 
founded old skinflint I " the fellows shouted. 
I turned pale and thought what a- narrow 
escape I was having. 

Just then up got little " Bud " Hoover, 
old Doc's grandsoii, whom you have always 
held up to me as a model of truth-t°Uing 
you know. Dud's a sophomore, and t. inks 
he's a bigger man than oiu Eliot. 

" Hei e's Graham's son," he piped in his 
rat-tail-file voice that you could hear over 
all the rumpus, and pointing right at me, 
" Ask him about it." 

There was nothing for it for me but to 
get up and defend the family honor. As I 
was about to speak I saw another tellow 
running in from the kitchen with a big ham, 



TO ills SEI.F-MADE FATHER. 



'5 



yellow covered and bearing a big red label, 
— your label. I had a great inspiration. I 
felt that ham would prove our salvation. 

"Gentlemen, I am the son of John Gra- 
ham," I said haughtily, " and glad of it, for 
he has got more dough than this whole 
blamed college is worth ; and, to show that 
you're all wrong, I'm going to quote some- 
thmg that he wrote me last week. Just you 
listen : 

"' If youll probe into a thing which looks 
sweet and sound on the skin to see if you 
can't fetch f > a sour smell from around the 
bone, you'll be all right.'" 

That hit 'em in great shape, and ' Hippc " 
Smith took a big carver and slashed tne 
ham into shoe-strings in about thirty sec- 
onds. Then he lifted the bone to his nose 
and let out a yell that sent all the girls up- 
stairs flying. The other fellows sniffed and 
bellowed with him. 

The next thing I knew the bone landed 
violently on my neck and the air was full 
of tin cans, four of which met splendid in- 
terference from my head. When I came 
to I could hear four hundred voices shout- 
»ngr '■ Piggy, piggy, oowee, oowee oowee," 
at me, and I knew I had passed through a 



I6 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



baptism of rapid fire. They were the " roast 
beef and blood-gravy boys " you mentioned 
in youi' letter, for sure. 

The surgeon's bill is $75, which I know 
you will pay cheerfully for my gallant de- 
fense of the house. But I wish you'd put , 
up better stufif. Your label is a dandy, but 
couldn't you economize in lithographs and 
buy better pigs? By the way, the fellows 
have nicknamed you the " Ham-fat Philos- 
opher." The letter did it. But don't feel 
hurt ; I've already almost got used to being 
called "Piggy "myself. 

I am appreciating more and more the 
golden truths of your cold storage precepts. 
As you say " Right and wrong don't need 
to be labelled for a boy with a good con- 
science." Good consciences must be scarce 
around here, for on the other side of Har- 
vard Bridge they label wrong with red 
lights, and I've failed to find a fellow yet 
who is color blind. 

In my pursuit of knowledge I have made 
the acquaintance of quite a number of the 
police force. They seem to me to be an 
undiscerning lot. For instance, I heard 
one of them say the other day that Harvard 
turned out fools. This isn't true, for, to 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



17 



my certain knowledge, there are quite a 
number of fools who have been in the 
University several years. 

I am unable to write at any further length 
this evening, as I must attend a lecture in 
Course XIII. on Banks and Banking, by 
Professor Pharo. 

Your affectionate son, 

PiERREPONT Graham. 

P.S. I am trying hard to be a good 
scholar, and am really learning a thing or 
two. But I respect your anxiety that I 
should also be "a good, clean man," and 
almost every Sunday morning I wake up 
in a Turkish bath. 



LETTER NO. II. 



LETTER No. II. 

Pierreptmt's University progress along rather 
unique lines is duly chronicled for the pater- 
nal information, and some rather thrill- 
ing experiences are noted. ' 

Cambridge, May 7, 189 — 
Dejr Dad: 

I am sincerely sorry my last expense 
account has made you round-shouldered. 
I should think you pay your cashier well 
enough to let him take the burden of this 
sort of thing. Better try it when next 
month's bills come in, for I should hate to 
have a hump-backed father. 

You haven't the worst end of this ex- 
pense account business, by any means. If 
it makes you round-shouldered to look it 
over, as you say, you can just gamble a 
future in the short ribs of your dutiful son 
that it made me cross-eyed to put it to- 
gether. You see there are so many items 
that a Philistine— that's what Professor 
Wendell -ills men who haven't been to 
Harvan oulf^.n't je expected to under- 



33 



LETTEKS FROM A SON 



Stand. I was afraid that $150 for inci- 
dental expenses in the Ethnological course 
wouldn't be quite clear to you. It may be 
necessary to tell you that Ethnology is the 
study of races, and the text-books are very 
costly and hard to procure. But the fel- 
lows are very fond of the course ; it is so 
full of human interest that it is a real pas- 
time for them. In fact, they sportively call 
it "playing the races," to the great delight 
of dear old Professor Bookmaker, our in- 
structor. 

Your SI ^estion that I appear to be try- 
ing to buy Cambridge proves you are not 
posted on conditions here. I am, and I 
may say en passant, the conditions are also 
posted on me — the Dean sees to that. I 
wouldn't buy Cambridge if it were for sale. 
I never had any taste for antiques. There 
are purchasable things in Boston far more 
attractive ; if you will come on I'll be glad 
to let you look 'em over. I like Cambridge 
well enough daytimes, but the most inter- 
esting thing in it is the electric car that 
runs to Boston. 

I realize that my expenses grow heavier 
each month, but money not only has wings, 
but swims like a duck, and the fashionable 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHEK. 



23 



fluid to float it is costly. I'm veal.y begirt' 
ning to believe that a man who can read, 
write and speak seven or eight languages 
may be an utter failure unless he's able to 
say "No" in at least one of them. 

The problem of how to get rich has not 
yet been reached in the Higher Mathe- 
matics course and so it's not worrying me, 
as you seem to think. But of course I 
don't want to cast reflections on the sol- 
vency of the house of Graham & Co., so I 
try to keep my end up. It's expensive, 
for there are fellows here who've got bigger 
fools than I have for— but this wasn't what 
I started to say. All men may be born 
equal, but they get over it a good sight 
easier than they do the measles ; and while 
some of the fellows have to study in cold 
rooms, others have money to burn. Pov- 
erty may not be a crime, but it's a grave 
misdemeanor in Cambridge. 

I am grieved, my dear father, to have 
you say that you haven't noticed any signs 
of my taking honors here at Cambridge. 
You cannot have read the society columns 
of the Boston papers, or you would have 
seen that I have already a degree from 
the Cotillion Society, as being a proficient 



LKTTERS FROM A SON 



student of the German; am entitled to 
the letters B.A.A. after my name — a privi- 
lege granted by a learned Boston organiza- 
tion after very severe tests, and have been 
extended the freedom of Boston Common 
by the aldermen of the city. If these things 
don't justify the inking up of a few pink 
slips, you can souse my knuckles. It 
grieves me to have you fail to appreciate 
what I've accomplished. I am trying to 
do your credit, — what a foolish little slip; 
rub the " r " from " your " and youll see my 
meaning. 

Another thing that proves my high stand- 
ing in college is the fact that I've been ad- 
mitted to the D.K.E., playfully known here 
as the " Dicky," a very exclusive and high- 
toned literary and debating society, spe- 
cially patronized by the Faculty. The initi- 
ation ceremonies are very curious, and I 
really believe you would laugh to see some 
of the innocent little pranks the new men 
cut up. They are sent around town and 
over into Boston dressed in quaint garb 
and instructed to ask roguish questions of 
any they meet. This is to give them self- 
possession in debate and calmness in facing 
the battles of life. It would meet with your 
hearty approval, I am sure. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



"5 



For my little trial I was compelled to 
wear a yellow Mother Hubbard, with a 
belt of empty Graham & Co. tin cans fas- 
tened around my waist and a double rope 
of your sausages hanging from my neck. 
A silk hat completed the rig. Thus accou- 
tred I was told to promenade up and down 
Tremont street over in Boston, a swell 
walk opposite the Common, and bark like 
a dog. Every five minutes I had to button- 
hole some one and shout " Buy Graham & 
Co.'s pork products and you'll never use 
any others." 

Well, the long and short of it is that I 
became a marked man on the gay boule- 
vard. Small boys tendered me a free escort 
and made insulting remarks, which I en- 
dured cheerfully for the cause. It vexed 
me a bit, though, to find that one of the 
persons I advised as to our meats was Miss 
Vane of Chicago- She looked unutterable 
things and murmured something to her 
escort at which he smiled pityingly. If 
you hear that I drink, you will know exactly 
how the rumor started, and discredit it 
accordingly. 

Finally the crowd around me became 
so dense that street traffic was blocked, 



36 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



and I was taken in charge by a policeman 
for disorderly conduct In another minute 
I was arrested by a meat inspector for ex- 
posing adulterated foods for sale. Between 
the two of them it was a simple little cot 
that night and a frugal breakfast next morn- 
ing for Pierrepont. I was discharged on 
the disorderly conduct count, but fined 
jlioo and costs on the bad meat item. The 
judge ordered 3,11 the windows opened 
when it came into court. Father, it's up to 
Graham & Co. to make good the deficit in 
my month's allowance. As a philosopher, 
you will see the point, I am sure. Perhaps 
a little bonus for mental suffering will sug- 
gest itself to you. 

I simply mention this in a general way 
to let you know how your pork products 
are regarded in the east, where the health 
laws are stricter than in Chicago- I would 
advise you to play harder for the Klondike 
trade and cut Boston off your drummers' 
maps. This is a bit of " thinking for the 
house " that I'm not charging anything for. 
It's sense, though, and you can coin it into 
dollars if you see fit. 

Dear old father, _ ' vays planning for my 
comfort and pecuniary welfare 1 You wrote 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



27 



that when I have had my last handshake 
with John the Orangeman, I am to enter 
the Graham packing plant to lick postage 
stamps as a mailing clerk at $8 a week. 
Honestly, dad, I don't feel worthy of so 
much. Make mean office boy at three per 
and let me grow up with the business. 
And I can't lick a postage stamp— really, 
I can't. Professor Plexus, our instructor 
in calisthenics, told me so the other day. 
He is a coarse and brutal man and I think 
I shall cut his elective out next semester. 

But of course I shall accept your offer, 
although I should prefer a partnership, no 
matter how silent; for I shall be glad to 
be on hand in case anything should happen 
to you. Despite the law of averages you 
never can tell, you know. 

As you say, there's plenty of room at the 
top. But that's where I'd like to start. I'd 
take all the chances of falling down the 
elevator well. Even if one starts at the 
bottom, he's not safe. The elevator may 
fall on him. 

You say that Adam invented all the dif- 
ferent ways in which a young man can 
make a fool of himself. If he did — 
which, with all due respect to you, pater, I 



38 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



doubt — it's a wonder to me that Beelezebub 
didn't quit his job in Adam's favor. I have 
no doubt it pays to be good, but you know 
better than I do that it often takes a long 
time to get a business well established. 
Misdeeds may be sure to find you out, but 
if they do they'll call again. 

I've devoted a good deal of thought to 
your maxims, which I realize to be sensible 
if homely, but, aft/er all, if people practiced 
what other people preached, the preachers 
would have to take on a new line of goods. 
At all events I won't allow myself to worry. 
The man who's long on pessimism is usu- 
ally short on liver pills. Misanthropy is 
only an aristocratic trade-mark for bilious- 
ness. 

I don't do things just because the other 
fellows do, as you suggest, but for the sake 
of the family name I must observe the pro- 
prieties. Even in this I do not go to such 
extremes as the Afro-American gentleman 
who sells hot corn and " hot dogs" in Har- 
vard Square in their respective seasons. 
His wife died a few weeks ago and he 
found it pretty hard to get a living and 
crap stakes without a laundress in the 
family. So he married a stout wench about 



TO HIS SELF-HADE FATHER. 



29 



ten days ago. Last Sunday, says our jan- 
itor, who tells the story, his new wife asked 
him to go to church with her. "Go to 
church wid you, chile," he cried ; *' Bress de 
Lord, be'ent you got no moh sense ob de 
propri'ties dan to think dat I'd go to church 
wid annuder woman so soon after de death 
ob my wife?" 

It is nearly midnight and I must close, 
for at twelve the art class meets at Soldiers 
Field to go and paint the John Harvard 
statue. 

Your affectionate son, 

PiERKEPONT Graham. 

P.S. I wired you to-day for $50. I 
couldn't explain by telegraph, but the fact 
is it cost me that sum to keep your name 
out of the police court records. 



LETTER NO. III. 



L 



LETTER No. III. 

Pierrepont, about to forsake Harvard, supplies 
his father with some reasons for agree- 
ing with him that a post-graduate 
course is not advisable. 



Cahbbidge, June 4, 189— 
My Dear Father: 

No, you certainly need not get out a meat 
ax to elabora^ ; >ur arguments against my 
taking a post ate course. What you 

have already ^aid makes me feel as if a 
ham had fallen on me from the top of 
Pillsbury's grain elevator. There I go 
again with my similes derived from trade 1 
It's exasperating how home associations 
will cling to a fellow even after four years 
of college life I But it's worse when these 
stock-yard phrases bulge out in polite con- 
versation. It's a case of head-on collision 
with your pride, when you are doing your 
very neatest to impress some sugar-cured 
beauty that you are the flower of the flock, 
to make a break like a Texas steer. The 



34 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



social circle was pretending to tell ages the 
othernight. When it came my next, a 
pert little run-about, in a cherry waist and 
a pair of French shoes that must have 
come down to her from the original Cin- 
derella, spoke up. 

"And you, Mr. Graham, how old are 
you?" 

" I was established in 187-" I said, with 
one of my fervid I'll-meet-you-in-the-con- 
servatory-after-the-next-dance glances. But 
I never added the odd figure. Everybody 
laughed. Fortunately they thought I in- 
tended a joke. I'll bet you a new hat — 'f 
you are still sporting yftur old friend you 
need one — that you couldn't say " born " 
I caught the " established " from you. 

I trust my education will do all that you 
hope for my advancement in business. I've 
read somewhere — perhaps in one of your 
-eaty letters — that "good schooling is 
" Jd capital." It may be, but the chances 
lor investment are pretty poor hereabouts. 
Money is certainly more generally current. 
It may be the root of all evil," but I've" 
noticed that it is a root that some very 
good people plant in the sunniest corner of 
their intellectual garden and keep well 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



35 



watered. While it may not be true that 
every man has his price, I note that many 
of those who do are ready to cut rates and 
give long time with discounts. 
^ With your customary capacity for bang- 
mg the spike on its topknot, you diagnose 
my future correctly. I admit that I'm " not 
going to be a poet or a professor." Even the 
Lampoon rejects my verses — though lam 
bound to say that if I wrote such hogwash 
as your street-car ad-smith grinds out, I 
would never dare criticise Alfred Austin 
agam — while as for the professorial call- 
mg, there is nothing I could possibly teach 
except anatomy. We have had a splendid 
course in that at the various Boston am- 
phitheatres, and the fellows say I'm way 
upon the subject. But I hardly think it 
serious enough for a life calling, so, as you 
so pleasantly intimate, I believe I will ac- 
cept your offer to join fortunes with the 
packing-house. I think I know enough 
of Latin to decline pig— and I always do 
when it's our label —but circumstances of 
a strictly pecuniary nature make it advis- 
able for me to close with you at once. 
Better an eight-dollar job and six o'clock 
dinner than a post-graduate course and free 



36 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



1 

i 



lunch. While I'm not prepared to adnut 
that my soul soars to the azure at the 
thought of being a pork packer, perhaps 
it is just as well. When I was a boy my 
ambition oscillated between keeping a 
candy store and being a hero. Now candy 
makes my teeth ache and I've seen two or 
three heroes. 

I spent some time thinking what I had 
better do about meeting your desire that I 
desert literature for liver, but your last 
letter soldered my aspirations into a pretty 
small can. My chum doesn't like pork or 
relish my imminent intimate connection 
with it. Every day for a month he's asked 
me whether I had decided. To-day I an- 
swered him with a story that Deacon Skin- 
ner used to tell about a young minister he 
once knew. He was parson of a small 
country church that paid a pretty skimpy 
salary, mostly in vegetables his flock could 
not eat themselves. There was precious 
little marrying and everybody that died 
seemed to be on the funeral free list. Al- 
together it was a case of laboring in a vine- 
yard that had gone to seed, and the young 
preacher was more often full of inspiration 
than of roast turkey and fixin's. But an 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 37 

empty stomach made a clear head and the 
eloquence of Iiis sermons would have given 
Demosthenes a hard run for first money. 

You can't always hide away talent so 
that It can't be dug up, and one Sunday 
the outlook committee from a fashionable 
church came down to D — and listened to 
the mmister. His text that day happened 
to be one of those which permit of much 
oratory without enough orthodoxy to set 
the soul mto convulsions. The sermon 
made a hit with a regulai Harvard " H " 

fx"A'" ^ ^^^ °'" *"'° ^^^ pastorate of the 
Wabash avenue church, whose steeple is 
nearer heaven than the majority of the 
congregation are likely to get, was offered 
to the young man, who told the commit- 
tee that he must weigh the matter care- 
fully. 

The news spread through the village in- 
stantly.as it always does — for any country 
town has Marconi beat to a custard on wire- 
less telegraphy— and on the afternoon of 
the day on which the call to the new field of 
labor came, the young minister's parishion- 
ers maugurated a special pilgrimage to find 
out the prospects. The first arrival was a 
woman. (Strange, isn't it, that for all a 



38 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



i', 



woman takes so long to dress, she can al- 
ways give a man a killing handicap and 
beat him from scratch to the scene of a 
scandal or a bargain sale?) She was 
ushered into the parlor by the clergyman's 
little girl. No one else seemed to be visi- 
ble. The Mother Eve in her wouldn't let 
the visitor wait long, so she put the little 
girl in the quiz box. 

" I've heerd tell, Cicely, that your pa's 
been asked to go to a big church up to the 
city." 

" Yes'm," answered Cicely, discreetly. 

" Well, child, tell me, hev you heerd him 
sayif he'sa-goin'?" 

"No, mam, I haven't." 

" Nor your mother neither? " 

" No, mam." 

" Waal, my dear, you must know some- 
thin' abaout it. Dew you think he's a-goin' 
to leave us ? " 

The child squirmed about uneasily and 
twisted her fingers. 

"Speak right out naow, that's a good 
girl.^ Be he a-goin' to go or stay ? " urged 
the inquisitor. 

"I don't know, mam, really. Papa's in 
his study praying for Divine guidance." 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHSIt. 



39 



" Where's your mother? " 
" Upstairs packing the trunks." 
I simply mention this in a general way, 
father, and woi-Id note in addition that in 
the absence of mother the janitor has helped 
me do my packing. I decided it was best 
to agree with you, for I realize that it never 
pays a man to act like a fool ; there are too 
many doing It as a regular business. While 
I should have liked a post-graduate course 
with an elective or two from Radcliffe I 
realize that the difference between firmness 
and obstinacy is that the first is the exercise 
of will power and the second of won't 
power Give me a little vacation in Europe 
and 1 11 come home and let you can me as 
devilled ham if you want to. 

ni^l?'* "^fu *° '"^^ ^''"°"* "myself, but 
II bet you 11 be s .rprised in me. We've 
a^l been cured of bragging by a New 
Yorker in my class who spends all his spare 
time proving why Gotham should be the 
only real splash on the map. To hear him, 
you d think the good Lord moved the sun 
up and down simply to accommodate New 
Yorks business hours. A fellow from 
Dublin whos here studying home rule 
took him down the other day. Gotham 



40 



LETTEKS FROM A SON 



was boasting of New York's high buildings 
when Dublin spoke up. 

" Hoigh .buildings, is it? Begorra, we've 
buildings in Dublin so tall that we have to 
put hinges on the four upper stories." 

" What in the world is that for? " asked 
Gotham. 

" To let the sun by so it can reach New 
York, av coorse." 

By the way, you say that some men learn 
all they know from Life. If you refer to 
the New York publication, vou must have 
met some ■. i.-.ry gloomy and dyspeptic indi- 
viduals of iaie. I'm not of that sort, nor, 
on the other hand, am I bound up in books, 
although, if I do say it, I have the finest 
set of the Decameron in college, and 
am considered quite an authority on the 
poetry of Rabelais. While on the subject 
of literature, I ought to state that the extra 
$100 in this month's expense account is for 
initiation fee and dues in the new Reading 
Club thai a lot of us seniors have organized. 
We have for our motto Lord Bacon's great 
phrase " Reading maketh a full man," and 
it is wonderful to see how accurately the 
old philosopher hits our case. Owing to lack 
of accommodations here, we usually meet 




Tht Son in College. 



TO Hin SELF-MADE FATHER, 4, 

|n some Boston hotel where we are safe from 
•nterrupfon You would laugh to see how 
hot some of the fellows get arguine fine 
P«.nts The other night f become"^ t! 
ercised myself discussing Schenck's " The- 
ory of Stja,ghts " that I walked plumb intt 
a pier glass, thinking I was up against 
another chap. I think the hotel man stuck 
w ■f,t":^«^^' ''"' t'le Club chipped in 
and paid like little men. Despite suchocc^ 
saonal drawbacks, the club meetings a^ 
very popular. In fact, we have full houses 
every time we get together. 

Yes, that being electeJ president of my 
class was a good thing, for at last I can get 
my name on programmes and things with- 
out any reference to pigs tacked to it. But 

in™ i"°'I^" '* P™^^" any overwhelm, 
mg popularity on my part, for it was a dull 
season and I just slid in. Of course I 
would have liked to be marshal, but as I 
hadn t made any home runs and you 

Zm u * r ^''^ ^°^'^ th^°"^»> your 
check-book. I was put on the mourners- 
bench so far as that ambition went 

I am glad to be able to write you the 
cheerful news that I shall graduate; up to 
last week there seemed to be considerable 



42 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



doubt about it in certain high quarters not 
far removed from Prexy's mansion. But I 
went over to see one of the influential over- 
seers, a Boston Brahmin with moss on his 
front steps, and plead with him. I was 
finally obliged to promise him that you 
would leave Harvard i> 100,000 by your will 
if he would see that I graduated. Of course 
it's a pretty stiff price, but as you won't 
have to pay it you ought not to mind. 
Besides, dad, think of the pleasure to Ma 
and the girls to have one real Commence- 
ment in their lives. It's cheap all round. 
Your affectionate son, 
Pierre PONT. 
P.S. If my dream comes out and I get 
a diploma, I'll bring it home. It may be 
useful to you as a by — product. It's sheep- 
skin, you know. 



LETTER NO. IV. 



LETTER No. IV. 

From the Waldorf-Astoria, Pierrepont gives his 

^ather some inside information as to life 

and manners in New York and 

cites some experiences. 

Waldorf-Astoria, June 30, 189 — 
My Dear Father : 

I used to think you had a strong sense of 
fun, but I am beginning to fear that long 
connection with such essentially un-humor- 
ous animals as hogs condemned to the guil- 
lotine, has dulled it. I say this because it 
is evident that you didn't take my little joke 
about wanting to go to Europe in the spirit 
I intended. The idea of suggesting to you, 
dear old practical pig-sticker that you are, 
that Europe was in it for a minute with a 
pork-packing house as a means of culture 
seemed so irresistibly comic to me that I 
thought you would roar with laughter also, 
and perhaps put another dollar on that 
eight per I am going to receive so soon. 
I can catch echoes of your roar even here, 
but I get no suggestion of cachinnation. 



46 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



Really, the laugh is on me for attempting 
such a feeble joke. When I get fairly into 
the pork emporium, I shall confine my 
witty sallies to Milligan. 

On the whole, and seriously, I'm glad you 
drew a red line through my scheme of let- 
ting the Old World see what a pork-pack- 
er's only looks like after his bristles have 
been scraped through college. Since I've 
been at the Waldorf-Astoria I've seen so 
mi!;y misguided results of a few days in 
Lt'.ndon that I never want to cross the duck 
pond. Montie Searles, who graduated 
when I was a soph, was a tip-topper at Cam- 
bridge, but he unfortunately got the ocean 
fever. I met him in the palm room last 
night and the way he " deah boy "-ed me 
and worked his monocle overtime was 
pitiful. He's just got back and took the 
fastest steamer, for fear his British dialect 
would wear off before he got a chance to 
air it on Broadway. If I should borrow 
his clothes and come home in 'em you'd 
swap 'em for a straight-jacket. They are 
so English that boys play tag with him in 
the streets waiting to see the H's drop, and 
so loud that every time he goes out of the 
hotel an auto gets frightened and runs 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



47 



away. After I left him last night I had to 
sing myself to sleep with " Hail Columbia." 

Familiarity breeds contempt ; no man is 
a hero to his own valet, and I'm afraid no 
son is taken seriously by his own father. 
For instance, you draw a pretty strong in- 
ference that I've never earned a dollar 
which is hardly fair. I have earned consid- 
erable at times as a dealer in illustrated 
cards, and have picked up a tenner here 
and there by successfully predicting the re- 
sults of various official speed tests. These 
things require hard labor and mental ap- 
plication. But the pay is sometimes uncer- 
tain, and on the whole I think your plan 
for me is better. 

I told Searles about the packing-house 
job, and he pooh-poohed the idea. "Ma 
deah boy," he cried, " why don't you be in- 
dependent? Try writing for money, old 
chap. That's what you were always doing 
in college." I'll bet he read that joke in 
Punch. 

This is the greatest hotel in the world 
for one thing — in it you can meet a more 
varied assortment of people than under any 
one roof on earth. Billionaires jog elbows 
with impecunious upstarts who saunter 



48 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



about the hotel corridors in eveningclothes, 
and live on some cross street in hall-rooms 
way up under the eaves. There is one young 
fellow who haunts the hotel and looks like 
a swell, who is said to be only a few dress 
shirts shy of being a pauper. But he ac- 
tually believes he's the real thing, and the 
story goes that to keep up his self-deception 
he goes home every afternoon, sits on his 
trunk and toots a horn, after cleaning his 
trousers with gasoline, and thinks he's.been 
automobiling. 

It's a long shot that you can't tell any- 
thing about a man in New York until you 
find out his business. He may look like a 
tramp and have curvature of the spine from 
carrying around certified checks, or he may 
seem the real thing in lords and only have 
a third interest in an ash collecting indus- 
try. I had an illustration last Sunday of 
how impossible it is to judge a man's mo- 
tives until you know his business. I went 
to church — fact, I assure you. I saw a 
new style hat and followed its wearer into 
the sacred edifice, as I wanted to fix its de- 
tails in my mind to tell mother. She — I 
mean it — was very pretty. On second 
thought I guess you'd better not mention 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



49 



this to mother. In the course of Iiis ser- 
mon the minister — one of those preachers 
who seem to think it necessary to shout 
out an occasional sentence to keep his con- 
gregation awake — declared in stentorian 
tones, " Wonders will never cease." A fat, 
bald-headed man in front of me nodded and 
murmured audibly, " Thank Heaven I" I 
wondered and asked the sexton who he 
was. It appears that he runs a dime 
museum on Sixth avenue. 

Here's a straight tip for Sis. If she 
must marry a title let it be an American 
one, a Coal or Ice Baron. Counts and 
earls are thicker than sand fleas here and 
about as useless and annoying. 

Speaking of straight tips, I've got a sure 
one on the horses sewed into the lining of 
my vest: If you want to go to the races 
without losing money don't take any money 
with you. The subject of money reminds 
me that your old Kansas friend, " Uncle " 
Seth Slocum was in town a day or two ago. 
With all due respect to him and his, you 
must admit that with his particularly flour- 
ishing facial lawn he looks more like a hay- 
seed than a wheat king. At all events the 
head clerk tipped off a house detective to 



so 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



keep an eye on him. They don't want any 
one robbed in the hotel — by outsiders. 
Seth hadn't been in town an hour, most of 
which he spent in telling me how he one*? 
got you into a jomer on July wheat, when 
he remembered that he had an appointment 
down town and started out for the L. I 
went with him as far as the door, and as I 
stood there waiting for a cab, I saw a burly, 
flashily dressed man step up and grab Seth 
by the hand. , 

" How do you do, my dear Mr. Hay- 
maker. How are all the folks at the Cor. 
ners ? " he cried. 

Uncle Seth looked at him a moment and 
said, " Haven't you made a i.iistake ? " 

" In the name, perhaps, in the face, no," 
said the big chap, suavely. " Can it be pos- 
sible that you are — " 

Seth took hold of the fellow's lapel and 
drew him closer to him. " No, my name's 
not Haymaker nor am I from the Corners. 
Come closer. I've heerd tell a lot about 
those bunker men and I don't want any 
one to know my name, except you ; you're 
such a likely chap." 

The burly man laughed and inclined his 
head. Then, in a stage whisper that could 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



5» 



be heard a block.Uncle Seth said, solemnly 
"Sh, don't breathe it. I'm Sherlock Holmes! 
disguised as the real thing in gold-brick 
targets, but don't give me away." 

Uncle Seth nearly started a riot one day 
at luncheon. It had been very hot in the 
morning, but the wind changed and the 
temperature went down rapidly. Seth saw 
me at a tab;e in the palm room and came 
over. "Well, Ponty, he shouted, in that 
grain-elevator voice of his, "quite a tumble, 
wasn't it? Dropped 15 points in half an 
hour." You ought to have seen 'em. It 
seemed as if every one in the room jumped 
to his feet in wild excitement. You see 
they thought he was talking stocks instead 
of thermometer. 

By the way. Uncle Seth is infringing on 
your territory. He's going in for philos- 
ophy and gave me a little advice. " If you 
ever want to build up a big trade, Ponty," 
he said, " mix up a little soft soap with your 
business life. Flattery counts. There's a 
man here in New York who's made his 
pile as a barber because it is his invariable 
rule to ask every bald-headed man that he 
shaves if he'll have a shampoo." 

I gather from your statement that my 



i» 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



allowance dies a violent death on July 15, 
that you are very anxious to see me on or 
about that date. You will. I have no de- 
sire to walk to Chicago, and my general 
mode of life trends toward Pu!Ii.ii.ns rather 
than freight cars. Ad interim, as we used 
to say in our debating societies, I think I 
shall run down to one of those jaw-twisting 
lakes in Maine to get some of New York 
soaked out of my system before dropping 
in on you. Billy Poindexter, a classmate 
of mine, has a camp there, and he writes me 
that hompouts are biting like sixty, and 
mosquitoes like seventy. But I don't mind 
that, for I believe a little blood-letting will 
do me good after my stay here. 

I like New York, even if it is a bit com- 
monplace and straight-laced compared with 
Chicago. They are great on Sunday ob- 
servance in this town, and I find I am 
gathering a little of the same spirit myself. 
For instance, at an auditorium called the 
Haymarket, there is always a devotional 
service very ea. y on Sunday mornings. I 
attended yesterday, and was much attracted 
by the ceremonies and the music. You 
would be surprised to see the number of 
ladies who are willing to be absent from 



TO HIS SELF-HADE FATHER. 



53 



their comfortable homes at such an incon- 
venient hour. 

Say what you will, father, New York is 
a hospitable place. Although an 'itter 
stranger, I was invited the other night to 
the house of Mr. Canfield, a very wealthy 
gentleman who lives in great style. Mr. 
Canfield is well known as a philosopher 
who devotes a great deal of his time to the 
working out of the laws of chance and se- 
quence. Beautiful experiments are made 
at his home every evening before a number 
of invited guests, among whom are some 
of the most prominent men in the city. It 
seems that it is the custom to have the 
youngest and least known guest contribute 
largely for the evening's entertainment, so 
naturally I went pretty deep into my avail- 
ablefunds. I think I have just about enough 
to settle my hotel bill and buy my transporta- 
tion to Lake Moose-something-or-other. It 
will be quite necessary that I hear from you 
at that point, and to the point, if you don't 
want me to become a lumberman or a 
Maine guide. 

By the way, I've been observant and I've 
discovered something, though you'll doubt- 
less not credit it. I see at last how so many 



54 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



dunderheads marry pretty girls. Two of 
them — pretty girls, not dunderheads — 
were talking at the next table tr me the 
other day, 

"So she's going to mn-ry Dick Rogers, 
IS she?" said one. ' i'oor thing I He's 
awfully flat." 

" Well," replied her companion, " he's got 
a steam yacht, an auto, a string of saddle 
horses and his own golf links." 

"Ah, I see," murmured her companion, 
" .. flat with all the modern improvements." 
Not bad for i New York girl, is it? 
Your affectionate son, 

P. 

P. S. I met Colonel Blough the other 
evening and he invited me to sit in at a 
poker game. Of course I refused. He 
was surprised, said he supposed it ran in 
the family, and related the details of a little 
business transaction he and some other 
gentlemen had with you when you were 
last in New York. I hope mother is well. 
I am very anxious to see her. I think 
you'd be in line for repute as a philanthro- 
pist if you would send me a check for a 
hundred 



LETTER NO. V 



LETTER No. V. 

Pierrepont goes fishing and writes his father 

tome of his experiences, not all of which, 

however, seem directly identified 

with the piscatorial art. 

Lake Moose, etc., Mi., July ii, 189— 

Dear Dad: 

Here I am in a att!e hut by the water, 
writing on the bottom of a canned meat 
box — not our label, for I gave Billy a bit 
of wholesome advice as to packing foods, 
v/hich he accepted on the ground that 
mine was expert testimony — a tallow can- 
dle flickering at my side, and the hoarse 
b( oming of bullfrogs outside furnishing an 
obligato to my thoughts. One particular 
bullfrog who resides here can make more 
noise than any Texas steer that ever struck 
Chicago. It isn't always the biggest 
animal that can make the loudest rumpus, 
as I sometimes fear you think. I simply 
mention this in passing that you may see 
that all the Graham philosophy isn't on 
one side of the house. 



58 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



Ab A spot for rest this place has even 
Harvard skinned to death. It is so quiet 
here — when the frogs are out of action — 
that you can hear the march of time. Be- 
sides Billy Poindexter and our guide, Pete 
Sanderson, I don't believe there's another 
human being within a hundred miles. It's 
a great change from the Waldorf-Astoria, 
where you couldn't walk into the bar with- 
out getting another man's breath. The 
commissary department is diiferent, too 
The canned goods Billy bought are as bad 
as yours, dad, upon my soul, while as foi 
fish, there's nothing come to the surface 
yet but hornpouts, and they'll do for just 
about once. 

We have fried salt pork for a change and 
Pete makes biscuits that would make ex- 
cellent adjuncts to deep sea fishing tackle. 
Altogether, this is great preparation for the 
packing-house, for I shall be so hungry by 
July 15 that I'll do anything to get a square 
meal. By the way, you haven't said any- 
thing on the subject of board — whether I 
could live at home on a complimentary 
meal ticket or be landed in a boarding- 
house and made to pay. I am going to 
write to Ma on this subject, for I think she 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



59 



is a good deal stronger on the fatted calf 
business than you. 

I think you would like to meet Pete 
Sanderson, for he's a veteran of the Civil 
War with a pension for complete disability, 
which he was awarded a little while ago. 
There isn't anything the matter with Pete 
except a few little scars, which he came by 
in a curious manner. It seems that he 
was examined by the pension board down 
at Bangor a few weeks back for complete 
paralysis. His home doctor swore that 
Pete couldn't move nor feel, and two strap- 
ping sons brought him to the ofKcein their 
arms. 

The other doctors punched and pounded 
him nearly to a jelly, but Pete never yipped. 
As a last resort they jabbed him with pins 
in a dozen different places, yet he didn't 
budge. Comp; jte paralysis, they declared, 
but they didn't know that Pete had been 
stuffed so full of opium that he couldn't 
see nor feel, either. But he says he helped 
just as hard to save the nation as any one 
else, and ought to be recognized. At any 
rate his case is quite as worthy as that of 
the man who visited a Washington pension 
agency and sought government aid on the 



60 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



ground that he had contracted gout from 
high living, due to his profits on army con- 
tracts. 

Pete is a great hand to spring stories of 
the war on us, and some of them are pretty 
good. One he tells about the chaplain of 

the Mass., when that regiment was 

lying on the Rappahynnock orChickahom- 
iny, or some other river during the summer 
of '62. It seems that the chaplain was act- 
ing as postmaster for the men, and had 
been much bothered by requests for the 
mail, which had got tangled up with the 
Rebs somewhere- One hot afternoon he 
allowed to himself that he'd like a good 
snooze free from interruption, so he affixed 
to the front of his tent a placard that read 
thus: 



CHAPLAIN DOESN T KNOW 

WHEN THE MAIL WILL 

ARRIVE. 



This worked like a charm, and the rev- 
erend soldier had a fine sleep and came out 
several hours later, greatly refreshed in 
body and mind. He was just a bit sur- 
prised to find a row of grinning privates 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



6i 



sitting outside his canvas residence, their 
eyes fixed on his warning in so noticeable 
a fashion that he himself turned to look at 
it. There, to his horror, mixed with amuse- 
ment—for he was a very human sort of 
chaplain— he found that some wag had 
gol at his card so that it now read : 



CHAPLAIN doesn't KNOW 
WHEN THE MAIL WILL 

ARRIVE, AND 
doesn't GIVE A DAMN. 



I merely mention this anecdote as evi- 
dence that a man cannot always be judged 
by what appear to be his deeds, as you 
swm to think, and that the devil often gives 
him a side wallop when he's engaged in 
perfectly innocent recreation. 

Thanks to your kind little remembrance 
I shall be able to be officially introduced to 
Milligan on the 15th. I note that, through 
your customary forethought, the check is 
just sufficient to land me in Chicago with 
eleven cents in my pocket, provided I prac- 
tice strict economy en route. Permit me 
to compliment you on being the most skill- 
lui promoter of labor any son ever had. 



62 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



I have racked rr y brain in vain to think 
what I could have said in the letter of the 
Fourth of July to arouse your encomiums. 
Your assertion that it " said more to the 
number of words" than any letter you ever 
received from me suggests that it was brief. 
As it was written on the Fourth, a day that, 
as a good American, I always celebrate, its 
brevity may be accounted for. The same 
explanation, however, will scarcely answer 
for the condensed power of expretsion you 
note. 

By the way, Poindexter isn't going to 
marry old Conway's widow, spite her mil- 
lions. I quizzed him about it and he finally 
put me wise. " Yes, I could have married 
her," he said. " In fact, we agreed, but I 
squirmed out of it. The truth is I pro- 
posed by mail — I didn't have the nerve to 
do it face to face — and she accepted me 
on a postal card. Her evident economy 
was a bit too much for me." 

I've done a lot of thinking (this word is 
not written very plainly, but it is thinking 
and nothing else) since I have been in the 
woods. Billy says I only think I'm think- 
ing, but he's a cynic. There's been little 
to do but think. The hunting is worse 



TO ms SELF-MADE FATHER. 



t>i 



than the fishing and the only thing I've 
bagged is my trousers. The sum total of 
my thoughts seems to be a few resolutions. 
Although I know resolutions are not ripe 
till Jan. I, I've had time to make them here 
and I'll have plenty of chance to get accus- 
tomed to them before I write them down 
in the Russia leather diary that I know 
you will be glad to include among my 
Christmas g^fts. 

My resolutions may not be original, they 
may not even be good ones, but such as 
they are I am going to write them out for 
you, for you have often told me that it was 
every man's duty to himself to set himself 
a goal and mark out the course by which 
to reach it. For this and a perfect wealth 
of other advice I can never thank you 
enough. Perhaps, however, the knowledge 
that I am really taking life seriously, as 
shown by my resolutions, will be some re- 
compense to you for the midnight oil you 
have burned in the coinage of succinct 
sayings and meaty metaphors. (I flatter 
myself that is pretty well expressed, al- 
though my English professor would object, 
as he often did, to my employment of trade 
terms as illustrations and similes.) 



64 LETTERS FROM A SON 

The Stain on this sheet of paper is due 
to Poindexter, who shied a slice of fat pork 
at my hoad while I was writing. That was 
yesterday and he absolutely refused to let 

ZS"f«'"7 '^"t':- "^ ^''l » ""a" who 
couldn t find anything better to do in the 

woods than write was several unpleasant 
sounding things. As he emphasized his 
rernarks by war-whoops, Comanche dances 
and the beating togetherof tin plates. I was 
forced to forsake, my literary pursuits till 
this morning. Billy is asleep. He abso- 
lutely refused to rise without a pick-me-up 
and. as our canoe was upset last night, we 
lost all our camp utensils, including that 
indispensable adjunct to camp life, the 
pick-me-up. 

Billy is up and insists that we must go 
to the nearest settlement for a new camp 
kit. He misses the splendid assortment of 
pick-me-ups with which we starter' out and 
swears he won't know north from south till 
he gets one. The resolutions will have to 
wait till we return. 

«r J- 1 July 13. 

We did not get back till to^ay We 
found a fine collection of camp necessities 
at the settlement and what we selected 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 65 

proved such a heavy burden that we were 
unable to start on the return trip till this 
morning. Billy is asleep again. I never 
knew he was such a heavy sleeper. It must 
be the bracing air of the woods. In Cam- 
bndge he had the reputation of never 
sleeping. 

I have re-read the resolutions and I think 
It best not to send them to you until I am 
out of the woods. Surveyed in the light 
ot this particular morning they seem to 
need as many amendments as the Consti- 
tution of the United States. 

Just a word of warning not to be sur- 
prised when I show up for work in hunting 
costume. I was compelled to leave all my 
other clothes in New York for safe keeping. 
Storage rates are very high there; the 
tickets call for a payment of jlisa I shall 
call at the Waldorf on my way through the 
city and shall get any letters -with enclo- 
sures — that may be there. 

Your hopeful son, 

p 
P.S. Do you think that when a m"an 
finds he IS catching two fish on one hook 
every time he hauls in his line it is time for 
him to_ Stop using bait ? Billy assures me 
that it IS. 



I 



LETTER NO. VL 



LETTER No. V!. 

751* teal at his father's tnaHing desk does not 

appear especially com/orfaHe .o the Junior 

Graham, if we may judgf by 1,'ir 

tone <if his eorrespondehct. 

Cbicaoo, Aug. 30, 189 — 
My Dear Father : 

Permit me to say, most respec'inlly cf 
course, that you are overdoing the emotional 
business as to my mistake in mailing a note 
of invitation to the theatre to Jim Donnelly 
in place of a letter denying his claim <rf 
shortage on hams, and denouncing him as a 
double-distilled prevaricator for venturing 
the same. As a matter of fact, it was a great 
stroke, and I've ordered the cashier in your 
name to put a two-dollar ell on my financial 
structure. Donnelly came in to-day and 
gave us a thousand-dollar order for short 
ribs; said he was devilish glad to find a bit 
<A humanity and sentiment in the house of 
Graham, and that if you had more blood 
and less lard in your veins, Chicago would 
be a better place to live in. He's fond of 






I 



70 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



the old bui:g:h, at that, for he licked a Bos- 
ton drummer last week for claiming that 
the Boston Symphony Orchestra was bet- 
ter than Theodore Thomas'. You see Jim 
has just become engaged and my little 
break struck him in a tender spot 

I note with pain, dear dad, that you 
make a great hullabaloo over my robbing 
you of your time by writing that note. 
Theoretically you may be right, but prac 
tically your kick is so small that a respect- 
able jack-rabbit would be ashamed of it 
Let's see; I work — theoretic ,.. r — from 
8 to 6, one hour out for lunch. U nder your 
munificent system of payment I get about 
IS cents an hour, or a quarter of a cent a 
mmute. It took me two minutes to write 
the note. Ergo, I owe you half a cent 
whereas you owe me the profit on the 
thousand-dollar order of short ribs, which 
Donnelly says must be something im- 
mense. Let's square up on that basis. 

But even had results been worse, absent- 
mindedness is a fault not a crime. Litera- 
ture is full of well-authenticated instances 
of that perversity of wit which makes one 
do the wrong thing instead of the much 
easier right one. The poet Cowper's feat 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



71 



of boiling his watch while he timed it by 
an egg is really a very commonplace illus- 
tration of the vagaries of the human mind. 
It was surpassed by Dean Stanley and 
Dr. Jowett, who were both extremely ab- 
sent-minded and ver>' fond of tea. One 
morning they breakfasted together and in 
their chat each of them drank seven or 
eight cups of tea. As the session broke 
up, Dr. Jowett happened to glance at the 
table. " Good gracious I" he exclaimed, " I 
forgot to put in the tea." Neither had no- 
ticed it. 

Even this, I think, is excelled by the case 
of a remarkably absent-minded man in the 
western part of Massachusetts, whose freaks 
of memory made him the sport of the coun- 
try for miles around. He once went for days 
without sleeping because he was very busy 
in his library and didn't leave it, so did not 
see his bed as a reminder. He capped the 
climax, hoVvever, when he came home one 
night and hanged himself to the bed-post 
by his suspenders. As he was wealthy and 
cheerful, with much to live for, it is gener- 
ally believed that he mistook himself for 
his own pants. At all events absent-mind- 
edness, like bad penmanship, is a sign of 



72 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



genius, and, as a loving father, you should 
be glad that I have one ot the symptoms. 

I must frankly admit that the addressing 
of envelopes is not the most fascinating of 
pursuits. If I must write in order to earn 
my salary from the house, I should much 
prefer to do it across the bottom of checks. 
I would then feel that the business was 
more dependent upon me and also that it 
might mean more to me. It has got so 
that the sight of a U. S. stamp after busi- 
ness hours gives me a bilious attack. Let 
me at least fill out the checks if I don't sign 
'em. Then I'll be better able to imagine 
that I'm the real thing around here, even if 
my salary's attenuation continues to eat a 
big hole in my sainted mother's pin money. 
The next best thing to owning an auto, you 
know, is to wear an auto coat. 

Of course Milligan made a noisy, bray- 
ing, Hibernian ass of himself when he 
came around to take your cussing of him 
out on me. He swore and danced and 
waved his arms, and got still madder when 
I asked him what he was Donnybrooking 
around in Chicago for. He didn't seem to 
like it a bit when I told him that one little 
finger of the girl I wrote to, was worth a 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHEl 



73 



thousand times as much as himself and the 
hogs he associated with, put together. He 
allowed that I was an impudent young 
jackass and the dead copy of my father ; 
went on to say that if he hadn't started the 
firm and kept his weather-eye on it ever 
since, you would have been in the bank- 
ruptcy court or jail years ago. When I 
got mad and told him that I'd have him 
bounced, he said you didn't dare to fire him 
because he knew the secret of — but really 
I don't think it safe to entrust it to paper. 

Milligan is a dirty beast who belongs to 
the Shy-o^Wate^ tribe and smokes a hor- 
ror of a clay pipe. To think that I, who 
have mingled with gentlemen for the past 
four years, should be compelled to breathe 
his air is too much. I won't work under a 
man who habitually insults my honored 
father, if you haven't pride enough to 
rebel, I have. He is vulgar enough to call 
you the "ould man," and I am morally 
certain he is a pretty liberal toucher of that 
private stock you keep in your inner office. 
For heaven's sake, throw him out and 
purify the place. 

Jim Donnelly seems to have taken quite 
a shine to me, and last night he invited me 



iPPiWP 



:i)km 



74 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



to his club for dinner. This was a great 
relief for yours truly, for between you and 
me, Ma has got pretty stingy with the .table 
since you left, and is trying to use up ? 
box of our products she found down cellar. 
(By the way, I notice from a slip Milligan 
gave me to file to-day, that you crossed 
off all the Graham foods the steward of 
your private car had picked out for your 
trip — wise old dad I) So Jim's invite 
was like an early cocktail to Col. R. E. 
Morse. After dinner we hied ourselves to 
a vaudeville show, which I simply mention 
in a business way. I see you've an " ad " on 
the drop curtain at the Hyperion, and if 
you won't kill the poet who wrote those 
verses, I must Such awful rot as: 
" We corrall the choicest hogs, 
Stab 'em, scald 'em, flay 'em ; 
Then you get the superfine 
Sausage made by Graham," 

may appeal to you as Ai inspiration, but 
trust an humble memberof your family when 
he says that you simply nauseate the pub- 
lic by such tomfool stuff. You're rich 
enough to hire Howells if you like, so 
there's no excuse for this. 
Wish I was with you on the car instead 



'.smsmwJ^^mm. 



1 

i 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER, 



75 



of being compelled to hear Milligan blart 
about "our house" like an Irish Silas 
Wegg. They say around the office that the 
car is bully well stocked with things and 
things, and they even hint that you have 
been taking to it pretty regular of late to 
change climates with Ma. I don't encour- 
age such idle talk. 

I've worried a lot since you went away. 
The business seems to have got on my 
nerves. Of course I realize that all I have 
to do is to lick stamps and try to look as if 
I enjoyed it, but as the family heir I can't 
help worrying about the firm. Several 
matters have come to my ati.ention, in the 
way of business, that make me fearful that 
perhaps you made a mistake in going away 
without leaving one of the family at the 
helm here. The Celtic gentleman who signs 
himself " Supt" and whom the boys call 
" Soup," does not take kindly to my advice. 
When I told him yesterday that I feared 
that a carlo-id of lard that was shipped to 
Indian-. w«s not first chop and would be 
returned, he looked me over curiously for 
a minute and said : 

" Don't let that worry ye. me bye ; the 
toime to fret is when they sind it back." 



76 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



ii f 



And then, in a very loud voice so thaf 

„ ''.y°"'" anticipation av trouble reminds 
me he said, " av an ould maid up in York 
state wintyyearsago. She was so pWuev 

oneatV hlf t/' '^^" ^^^ ^-'^^ ~ 
whin he mi? ^ man wud a jumped off it 
Smylie-lV? ^^'- ^'^'^^^ Prudence 
cu7 ?riT "'7';fo'^ot the name, how 

Welsh\arSi?ari;hrrnt""^ 

cud tell phwat he?'irb;:;rwr'r; 

day Z^^'r ^'l^'^'^'^- °- -inter's' 
Clay, radm potry and toastin' her fate in 

siob av a mother was rollin' out pie crust 
tIT i ^^t«"ddint she bui^t out crSn' 
This startled her mother so that she 
dropped her rollin- pin and rushed to her 

SStc"" ^'^^^'^-^htsheVhada 
warnm or cramps or somethin ' i* 

longtoimebeforLhe^rsqu^e^e 
out edgew.se bechune the wapes. 
rhwat IS the matter ? ' vh^ ^r,-<.j 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 77 

her confidence. ' I was sittin' here, radin' ' 
she said, whin the po'try suggisted some- 
thm to me an' thm I got to thinkinV and 
.wif ' ^^.'^ ^'■""^y *^« trun off by sobs, 
rhmkm of Phwat,darlint?' cried her 
mother. 

"'Oh mother, I was thinkin', as I sot 

tW -T? 7 ^1T '" '^^ ^P*-'" °^^" door, 
that If I should get married and a little 
baby should come and - and- ' Agin she 
stopped to put on brakes wid her handker- 
chief, and thin wint on rapidly, 'I was 
th;nkm how terrible it would be if I should 
git married and should leave the baby here 
in the kitchin' and go out and -and it 
should crawHnto the oven' an' you should 
shut It up wid the pies and -and -boo- 
noo, hool 

The point of this yarn appeared clear 
enough to the ooys in the office, for they 
laughed like hyenas and looked at me as if 
I were the latest thing in tailor-mades 
Strange how everybody knows when to 
laugh when the boss makes a joke I This 
morning one of the boys had the nerve to 
call me Arethusa. When I got through 
with him, in the vacant lot back of the hL 
pens, he couldn't have said " Arethusa " to 



78 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



save his life. You will commend tk«. I 
Jrj'^°' tj«, disunity of the famij t^i 
must be upheld. Hound lone aaothM^: 

Jri Sf "'' "^''"^ '"^ «*^ '* » few 

I am disappointed in Mil]i«,n ITnUi 
r^ntly I thought he «a„y fe&^^J 
in me. For instance, « day or two a»« kL 
expressed surprise that you' hajTot Sa^ 

ShTt'.-!" /'*\'^u*! "^fe business^ 
sa d that It struck him that I was better 
suited for it than for the coarse Ttmlso 
pork-packing. After that I :en:'^Ld 
Ike a pouter pigeon. But I have since 
earned that he followed his remark abJut 
he real estate business with a side speech 
to one of the clerks : " He certainly knows 

hTiThtrt:': "f ^^*^*^ busisr: 

tell the difference between a house and lot" 
Milligan IS so full of jokes that it's safe 
betting that if he had the shaking upT? 
I'ke to give him he'd shed comic operas 
end-men's gags and "side-walk conS 

ruTn n^f "^^ *° ^''^ '''' '^^^ busTneS 
deJthJl*}!"^'"^-*"'^"'"^- Do you won- 
der that I have written you several lettere 



li / 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 79 

demanding his re8ig:nation or acceptance 
of my own? You will not receive any of 
those letters, however, (or home, although 
humble. IS a place of shelter. I must say, 
though, that MiUigan's penchant for pre- 
senting the naked truth without even the 
tradition&i fig leaf is annoying. 

Your chafing son, 

PC Ik , PlERRIPONT. 

f .b. I have just learned that Milligan 
IS at home, sick. I wish him well, of course 
but if he should find a change of climate 
necessary I will gladly hunt up the time- 
tables for him. 



LETTER NO. VII. 



MICXOCOPY RESOUITION TEST CHART 

(ANSI ond ISO TEST CHART No. 2) 




^ /APPLIED IM/^GE Ine 

^F 1653 East Mnin Street 

S= Rochester, Ne« York U609 USA 

^S (716) 482 - 0300 - Phone 

^B (716) 2Sa-59B9-Fa> 



LETTER No. VII. 

PUrrepont writes of " independent work for the 
house "and its results; of the methods of 
"guide-books-to-success" philoso- 
phers, and of divers other topics. 

Chicago, Sept. lo, 189 — 
Dear Father: 

What a clever, indulgent, far-seeing old 
boy you are, to be sure. Your ultimatum 
that I must continue to be subject to Milli- 
gan sounds harsh at first reading, but I see 
your motive. You think by keeping me 
under him for a while I shall work like a 
fiend to get promotion, and thus escape 
his Celtic cussedness. I shall. No greater 
incentive to rise was ever offered a poor 
young man. In fact, you couldn't keep me 
down with Mike if you gave me ten thou- 
sand a year. My lacerated feelings are 
worth much more than that- 

Ma is a pretty good Samaritan these 
days. I told her that Milligan was my bete 
noir, and she said it was a mean shame for 
a grandson of her father to have to affiliate 



84 LETTERS FROM A SON 

with such an animal. Her sympathy cost 
her ten, but I feel that it was worth that to 
have her wellsprings of emotion tapped 
once more. 

I see the logic of what you said in your 
last. True it is that if it isn't a Milligan 
over us, it's some one else— I won't say 
worse, for that would be lying. I have 
Mike, Mike has you, you have Ma, and Ma 
has Mrs. Grun^ly. We are all travelling 
over the ocean of life in the same boat, but 
I'm hanged if I would'nt prefer to be in 
the first cabin drinking champagne, than 
down in the stoke-hole sweating like a 
galley slave. 

I am sincerely glad you are coming 
home. The old adage about the mice 
playing when the cat's away is away off. 
Since you've been gone, except for the half 
day that your Brian Boru-descended super 
was sick, I've not even had time enough 
in oifice hours to devote an occasional few 
moments' thought to how I will improve 
methods here when you elect to add " re- 
tired " to your recital of personal facts for 
the city directory. The way Milligan keeps 
me jumping would have pinned all the 
Mott Haven medals on me, had his system 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



85 



of training been adopted in Harvard ath- 
letics. I've lost seven pounds in three 
weeks, and if this thing keeps on I'll be so 
far under weight that I'll be sent out to 
pasture or to the boneyard. 

I used to think Milligan a well-balanced 
man, but I was wrong,— no man whose 
lungs are so out of proportion to his brains 
can be. I'm getting used to being bossed, 
but I shall never be broke to being roared 
at in the fashion of the Bull of Bashan. I 
don't object to being told that it is neces- 
sary to have a state as a component part 
of the superscription on a letter,— but is it 
essential to the bu&Ines:, code that the 
people in East Saginaw should have full 
particulars of my dereliction shouted at 
them? 

Milligan takes especial r'-'ight in intro- 
ducing me to all the visit. . who inspect 
the works, but never by any chance does 
he tell who I am. Not a bit of it. "This 
is our new mailing clerk: he is just from 
Harvard," is the neat way he puts it. And 
then they look me over and say, " Har- 
vard? Oh, indeed I" and the look passed 
out with it — you'd think I was a new line 
I if prize pig. I've come to believe that I'm 



86 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



under suspicion here in Chicago; and I've 
locked up all my college pins and insignia 
in a closet down cellar, and cou! t be 
roped into confession of my alma mater 
with a lariat. Education is evidently not 
a thing to brag of in Chicago. 

I can't quite get on to what it is, but 
Milligan is up to some game. He's very 
chummy with! the visitors and insists upon 
showing them about himself. An English 
lord who was here the other day, chatted 
with him for fully half an hour in your 
private office. Think of it — in your pri- 
vate office. I shall have it deodorized 
before you return. As usual, Milligan 
boasted and, as the door was open, we all 
heard. Something was said of the Irish 
land bill, and this opened the throttle of 
the super's conversation. 

"It's no more than roight to do some- 
thin' for Ireland. Who won the Boer War 
for ye? Kitchener, Lord Roberts, — both . 
Irish." 

"Really, you don't tell me?" drawled his 
lordship. 'And were all our great fighters 
Irishmen ? Was — was Wellington ? " 

" Certainly," said Milligan. 

"And Nelson?" 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



87 



"Shure. All great fightin' min were 
Irish." 

"How about Alexander?" asked the 
Englishman. 

" Celtic, for shure," 

" So f And say now, how about — wall, 
Balaam ? " lisped the peer. 

" Irish," cried Milligan, Irish to the back- 
bone. But — an' I asks ye to note this, 
your lordship — but the ass was English " 

" I hate Milligan, but I love a joke, and 
I joined in the laugh that went up. Then 
I heard his lordship pipe up, " How de- 
lightful: don't yer know, that your clarks 
are so merry. I do wonder what they are 
laughing at." 

Just then he toddled out and surveyed 
us through his monocle. As Milligan 
joined him he turned to him and said: 
" So Balaam was Irish, too, Mr. Milligan ? 
But I really didn't know the ass was a 
native animal in my country." 

Milligan certainly possesses self-control. 
He was as grave as a government inspector 
opening a Graham tin can as he replied, 
"Those laugh best who laugh last, your 
lordship." 

By the way, there was a little excitement 



1 



« 



88 LETTERS FROM A SON 

in the packing house yesterday which you 
may hear of in some other way. I'll tell 
you the straight facts. I happened to be 
over in the refining house during the noon 
hour, to get some butterine for a sandwich, 
when a fellow with some sort of monkey 
togs blew in and acted in a very suspicious 
manner. He nosed around into the vats, 
poked a queer glass machine plumb through 
a keg of butterine, broke open some tins and 
raised particular Ned in the olive oil de- 
partment. When he startea to put some 
stuff in his pockets, I remembered you*- 
oft-repeated injunctions to occasionally do 
some independent work for the house— to 
get out of the ruts, as it were— and I came 
an old-time Soldier's Field tackle on his jig- 
lets which resulted in his complete disap- 
pearance from the interior of the plant, and 
a compound fracture of the left shoulder- 
blade where he landed on the cobblestones 
of the yard. He cursed me as he was 
being earned away on a stretcher, and said 
the concern would hear from him to its 
sorrow. 

I understand he's a government in. 
spector, but I rely on your little way of 
settling such things. However, I think it 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



89 



would be just as well that you cut your 
expedition in two and get around here by 
the time the plot thickens. If you don't 
care to go home so much sooner than you 
intended, you can live in tlie private car 
right here in the railroad yard, and I won't 
let Ma next. You would enjoy the sur- 
roundings immensely. • Think of being 
lulled to sleep by the squealing of your 
own hogs and awakened in the morning 
by the music of Texas steers that are 
gomg into Graham cans. 

Billy Poindexter is here for a day or two 
on a little trip from New York. He cut 
up horribly when I told him I couldn't get 
out to air myself all day long. But I 
pointed out to him that I was in training 
to carry Graham & Co. around on my 
shoulders one of these days, and he ad- 
mitted that it looked like a good game to 
follow. I showed him one or two of your 
letters, and he said they were too clever for 
a pork-packer and too greasy for a philoso- 
pher. Asked if you weren't over-doing the 
"Beyond-the-Alps-lies-Italy" business a 
trifle, and allowed that too much watering 
has killed many a promising plant. How- 
ever, I don't believe water will be the death 



90 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



01 me. Billy says my occupation would 
drive him to drink, but I guess he isn't on 
to my salary or else doesn't know the price 
of cabs out here. Besides, he doesn't need 
driving:. 

Billy has developed quite a philosophical 
streak lately. I guess the girl he rea"y 
wanted for better or worse decic^ed it a 
long shot for worse and scratched Billy in 
the running. I taxed him with it. 

"Young man," said he— he's onlyfoup 
teen months older than I, but how he does 
swell up over it -"Young man, the pur- 
suit cf a girl is like running after a street 
car and missing it. You're never quite 
sure that it was the right car, after all." 

1 hat's all I could coax out of him, but I 
g;jess he got the stuffed glove all right 
The other night, after we had spent several 
hours in the Palmer House examining 
some very curiously shaped ghsses and 
some quaintly embossed steins, Filly be- 
came pathetically confidential and im- 
parted a secret to me. 
. " Piggy, my boy," he said, " I once cher- 
ished rainbow visions of being a great man 
some day, but I've given it up. After 
all, the only sure guarantee that you are a 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



91 



great man is to have a five-cent cigar 
named after you and see them sold at the 
drug stores at seven for a quarter." The 
thought affected him so that he tried to 
conceal his emotion by hiding his face 
behind one of a couple ci glasses that were 
just then submitted to our inspection. 

If Billy only could set his mind on any 
thing he'd be sure to n.akc a success at it ; 
but the only thing he has ever tried to do 
is to help spend his governor's money, and 
he is certainly the entire ping-pong at that. 
He is of a companionable nature, however, 
and is not averse to assistance in his 
pecunu / labors. I help Inm all I can, 
and, to square things up a bit, I invited 
him to be my guest at the house during 
his stay here. He doesn't eat much, so 
the family exch.^quer will not be lowered 
materially. He never has any appetite for 
breakfast. Mother has cottoned to him as 
if he were an orphan. She likes me to be 
with him for his good example, f >- • she 
knows that he doesn't drink, he's always so 
thirsty in the morning. 

The other night a inner Billy was very 
loquacious. He had been plaj'ing billiards 
all the afternoon, and there is something 






»» 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



connected with the game that always 
loosens his tongue. Somebody mentioned 
success, and that started William, for he 
always spells it with a big " S." 

"Success is much easier io talk about 
than to discover," he said. "The man of 
affai.s who undertakes to point out the 
path to it to a young man anxious to tread 
it> IS like the average man of whom you ask 
directions in a large city, and who says, 
Well, but it's hard to tell a stranger. 
You d better go up this street till you come 
to the City Hall, then take the first street 
to the right and the second to the left and 
— and then ask some one else.' " 

" I've noticed," said Billy, without a pause 
m his eloquence, "that the prominent men 
who write magazine arid newspaper articles 
on " How to Succeed," always tell their 
yearning readers to save part of each dollar 
they receive, but never tell them how to 
get the dollar. Fact is, if they knew where 
the dollar was they'd go get it themselves. 
And they never tell how they themselves 
succeeded. That would be betraying a 
business secret. 'Work, work hard,' they 
say, 'do more than you're paid for doing, 
and you will soon be appreciated by your 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



93 



employer. Do two dollars' worth of work 
for one dollar and you'll soon be Kettinir 
three dollars.' " 

Here Billy leaned over the table and 
spoke more impressively than I thought he 
was able to. "Search the career of one of 
these self-advisory boards for the com jn- 
ity," he said, "and you'll find that these 
men succeeded by hiring men to do two 
dollars' worth of work for one dollar and 
then getting themselves incorporated and 
selling the work for $5." 

When Billy got through, Ma smiled 
across to me and said, " How much Mr. 
Poindexter talks like your father I" 

Your hopeful son, 
P. 

P. S.— We are going to a masquerade 
ball to-night at the De Porques. Old De P. 
offers a prize of $100 for the most hideous 
make-up. I'm going as Milligan. 



LETTER NO. VIII. 



LETTER No. VIII. 

His governor's visit to Hot Springs, a centre. 

temps with a British Lord, together with 

experiences with a few physiciant, 

inspire Pierrepont s pen. 

Dear Pa: Chicago. J^. ,3, .89- 

There's no doubt that the Hot Springs 
are great fora good many ailments, and I'm 
glad you are improving. , Professor Plexus, 
our old mstructor in calisthenics at Har- 
vard,used to take the trip to Arkansas 
with John L. Sullivan, twice a year, and 
they both said the treatment was fine I 
don't think Sullivan had rheumatism," but 
your case may not be the same as his, and 
the scaldmg process will probably do you 
more good than it does a regular Graham 
hog. The boys around the office laugh 
considerably when they mention you and 
the Hot Springs, which makes me rather 
warm under the collar, for I can't stand 
having a father of mine misapprehended. 
1 know you for what you are, but they 



98 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



know you for what they think you are, and 
provisional knowledge, you know, goes a 
long ways in the provision business. 

Speaking of the Hot Springs reminds 
me of a story Professor Plexus used to tell 
about the Arkansas boiling vats. Accord- 
ing to him, there used to be a morgue con- 
nected with the establishment, for the use 
of those who were unlucky enough to suc- 
cumb to the treatment. An old Irishman 
was the general faqtotum of the place, and 
it happened that he was afflicted with a 
bronchial disturbance that was the envy 
of every cougher who visited the spot. 
Meeting him one day in the abode of the 
departed, one of the doctors remarked to 
him, on hearing a particularly sepulchral 
wheeze : 

"Pat, I wouldn't have your cough for 
five hundred dollars." 

" Is thot so, sorr ? " retorted the son of 
Erin. "Well," pointing with his thumb to 
the inner room where the departed padents 
lay on slabs covered with sheets, " they's a 
felly in there who wud give five t'ousand 
uf he cud hav ut." 

I simply mention this little incident in 
passing to show that all of us prefer the ills 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 99 

we have to those we know not of. I would 
rather be a mailing clerk at eight per than 
a tree man working freight trains for trans- 
portation and relying on hand-outs for sus- 
tenance in place of Ma's frugal, but certain 
table ahote. 

I sincerely trust, sir, that your trip to 
the Springs will do you the anticipated 
good. Billy Poindexter says — (by the 
way, I guess you didn't know he was back 
from the Klondike. Not exactly that, 
either, for he didn't reach the Klondike. 
The nearest he got to it was on the map 
he bought while he- was here. He went no 
farther than San Francisco. His only 
object in starting for the Yukon, he says 
was to see if he couldn't pick up a good 
thing or two, and as he found them in 
Fnsco he stayed there.) He was much 
concerned about you when I told him you 
had gone to the Springs. 
__ "Too bad for your governor," he said. 
He must suffer terribly with them " 
" With them ? " I asked. « With what? " 
" Why, boils, of course. What would he 
goto the Hot Springs for, if not for boils?" 
It cost me five minutes' time in a very 
busy evening to find out that he had made 



tCX) 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



a very bad joke, a paranomasia as we called 
it in college ; in other words, a pun or play 
upon words. I've advised Billy to publish 
a chart of this joke. If he does I'll send 
you one. He says I'm as dense as that 
English lord who visited the works while 
you were away last fall. 

Apropos, we met him — the lord — the 
other night. We were having a bite to eat 
at a rathskeller after the theatre when " his 
ludship " wandered in. He was built up 
regardless, with an Inverness coat with grey 
plaids, that looked like a country-bred rag 
carpet It was the real thing, of course, 
and I made up my inind to save the four 
dollars that have been added to my stipend 
until I could get one like it. I decided, 
however, that I shall not make my posses- 
sion of it public until he has left the coun- 
trj'. I should really hate to be mistaken 
for him. I even prefer to be kno'vn as 
connected with your business. 

Strange to say, when "his ludship" 
reached our table, he halted uncertainly as 
he saw me, and then stepped forward. 

" You'll — ^w — pawdon me, doncher- 
know, but — aw— is not this — aw —young 
Mr. — aw — Graham?" 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 101 

I pleaded guilty, with a mental plea for 
mercy and the next thing I knew his 
dukelets had made his monocle a part of 
the set-up of our table. I was very much 
embarrassed, for I didn't know how to in- 

qucklybax:ked me out of that corner by 

calling Billy by name. ^ 

" Yaas, old chap," he v.-as saying, « I met 

J°^~^^-at the Ring Club, doncher- 

Billy didn't know, because his si-ht is 
I l^'V ^^^' especiailyat the Ring Club. 

I m Fitz-Herbert," he said. 
This gave us the route, for his picture 

breakfast food ads. in the newspapers 
Not that he ever seems to do anything- 
he s always being done for, as the guest 
of this that and the other. He was det 
perately civil, wouldn't have us "Lord 
Percying-him.hesaid. So it was plain 
Percy after that and "plain Percy" he 
surely is. A homelier man I've never seen 
outside the comic weeklies. It would be 
great if you could hire him,' dad, to scare 
the steers into the killing pens. He likes 



109 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



American ways, he told us, between orders 
to the waiter. The way he did keep Gar- 
con bringing things was a caution, and he 
ate and drank them, too. But he is bright 
and sees a point oftener than most British- 
ers. Some things he said made it seem 
almost impossible that he could be other 
than a Yankee. 

Billy was very hard to keep in order. 
About midnight he usually feels patriotic 
and he said some things that would have 
riled his lordship if I hadn't tipped him 
the wink not to mind. Billy waved the 
"Star Spangled Banner" at every opportun- 
ity and if the British Isles could have heard 
and believed him they'd have sunk in sheer 
chagrin. He bragged so loudly of Uncle 
Sam and " tl;e greatest nation on earth," 
that the night clerk woke up and came 
down to see how many police reserves were 
needed to quell the riot. 

Lord Percy stood it like a weathered 
sport, but finally, when Billy was too 
busy for a minute to talk, he smiled over 
to me and said, " America's a great coun- 
try, Mr. Poindexter, but — aw — you must 
admit, doncherknow, that London is ahead 
of New York — aw — in one thing." 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



'03 



^^^BHly was right on his feet to deny every' 

"Ahead of New Ynrtfi,- • , 
ascor„funaugh/."l„';:h1 pL;?'^^'^'-''' 

it'snTne^;.2SlTnr"'r"-''^^* 
four in Nev York" '"''"" '''^ °"'y 

walt:::ri?,torrpf^'^"^'^''"«''e 

self to speakTosomefrieTdr^r "ll"" 
end of the caf^ H« u " , "* ^^ the other 

the place cfotd fnVhfs piiToTch"^'^^" 
fredited to PnJnwT. .^ *^''^'^'^«was 

obsequfous he dtate7 T.T' ""' ''^ 
by the newspaper E'r 7 d "'^ "'="" 

^agen.ent to'Sc'nfwheatletr' '"^ 
nounced. As she', <r^t vvneatleig-h is an- 

any giri should h/, """^^ -"oney than 

alone^ presume Lo'JT'' '° ^P^"^ ^" 

thoughtl?;rabout cS cE"".'^ '^^^ 
wedding march. '^''^^'^' ^^^'^ ^^e 

stamp.Jcke?lTt£oldT ''" T '""^^ ^ 
clerk at tSe per j IT' '."'u^ ''"""^ 
wanted to get rid of m ^ '^ ^''^^ ^''^y 



104 



UTTERS FROM A SON 






the fact, for the extra four bones will enable 
me to get my boots blacked occasionally, 
and justify my acquiring better cigars than 
the kind that used to drive my friends 
away. As you say, if I am good enough to 
warrant my boss pushing me upward I 
ought to satisfy you that I am a rising 
young man in the splendid enterprise of 
murdering hogs. I am really learning a 
good deal of the business, for I cnn now 
tell a ham-fat from a legitimate actor, and 
heaven knows we have few enough of the 
latter in Chicago. Billy Poindexter says 
that in the east they speak of " trying it 
on the hog," when they produce a new play 
in this town, and that if the <^nimal squeals 
and shows signs of displeasure, they know 
the thing will be a great success in New 
York. 

But to return to business. I am glad you 
are so worked up about my rapid rise in 
Graham & Co. To be sure, an ordinary 
bill poster around town can earn more than 
twelve dollars a week, but his future is 
generally limited to three-sheet bills and 
a pail of slush, while I am ticketed to a con- 
siderable share in the assets of Graham & 
Co. Of course, we all know that this start- 




Stii') Ctllig, Girl. 



?t-Iaw.a„d could vei^Hii^^yo"' »>«>■ 

«f you should becomTrLn. 1 "^ y"""" '"^ 

final testamenrSro.? ''"'''™"' '" ^0"^ 

that I am not th.1^?. "' ''°" ""'"'^"^and 

there are arta n n^^ • !""? ^^^ ^t all. but 

position w^Sir''^'^*' '«=»» '■» n^y 

looked. You didn't. « '"7*''" ^ °^^ 

came Pierrelnt G«h"*"'' '"'' *''«» ' be- 

youto.oirt^'^rk-SckLt^"'' 
Since each ^-teiprise w« , * busmess. 

way. we ou.ht ^"^.T^^ZZt 

are in St LouirhaviSe„eVKVy<>" 
I can't see why she shn„M u ™ * *""«. 
When I showed her tU^ he so suspicious, 
letter, she sSed and ST'°" ^°"^ 
enough to get some nnl * • *. *^ ««y 

Arkansas bSLgl^StX:'"!'"!™'" "^' 
to start for St. Ss f„T;, ^^^ threatens 

don;t show uj::z^:.&t7i'z' 

good thing, for I could flelmDh J^'^''^ 
«»nasshelef,andyoucoKfjJ^„- 



io6 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



when she returned, and give her the grand 
laugh. It's a wise wife who doesn't know 
her own husband, after all. 

I am getting into the social swim with 
both hands and feet, spite of our business. 
Made a great hit at the Dq Porque's the 
other night. The girls are getting up a 
new dancing association and wanted me to 
name it— because I wa3 a Harvard man. 
I told them to call it the St. Vitus Club, 
and you ought to have seen their faces. 

I regret to learn that you are in the 
hands of a specialist. I had one of that 
brand of doctors when I had the grippe at 
Cambridge. I grew worse suddenly one 
night, and as my chum couldn't reach the 
regular physician by 'phone he called in 
another. He had not been in the room 
three minutes when doctor No. i drew 
alongside. They were painfully cordial 
and had what they called a consultation. 
My chum said it was a fight. At all 
events they decided that a specialist be 
called. I was feeling better by that time 
and began to take notice. From what I 
saw then and have since learned from others 
similarly aflSicted I gather that a specialist 
always wears gloves and a beard and speaks 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 107 

with great-deliberation and gravity. After 
feeling my pulse with excessive care, he 
turned to each of the medical men in turn 
and inquired what .'they had done and 
recommended. To each statement he 
muttered, "Very good," or " That is well," 
although the two regulars had failed to 
agree on any point. The other two doc- 

if they hated to give me up. Then ihe 
specahst came out strong. « This young 
man, he said slowly and impressively, " has 
the gnppe You will continue his medi- 
cines regularly to-night - mark me, regu- 
larly. I will prescribe for him in the 
morning -m the morning." Then he 
walked out When he callfd in the mom- 
Z \^^i^'"'^ the same thing -walked 
out. I felt a moral certainty that if he got 
alter me I should eventually have to be 
earned out. The bunco business is not 
conhned to gentlemen with beetle brows 
big moustaches and checked trousere. ' 
Hut doctors have their troubles — the 
conscientious ones. Doc Mildmay - my 
chum Frank's brother, you know-once 
had an experience with a chronic invalid 
- one of the kind that change their doctor 



io8 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



and their disease every two weeks — that 
w^ an eyeK)pener. A nervous, choleric 
old man sent for him. He was chock full 
of symptoms and his conversation sounded 
hke a patent medicine folder. He wound 
up thusly: "When I go upstairs or up a 
hill I find difficulty in breathing and often 
get a stitch in the side. These conditions, 
doctor, denote a threatening affection of 
the heart." 

Mildmay, finding the old fellow fat and 
thick-necked, de< idcjd he was a too liberal 
feeder, so, with a desire to set his fears at 
rest, he said : " I trust not. These are by 
no means necessary symptoms of heart 
trouble." Here the old man switched in, 
glaring at Mildmay. " I am sorry, sir" he 
said fiercely, "to note such lack of discre- 
tion. How can you presume to differ with 
me as to the significance of my symptoms? 
You, a young physician, and I an old and 
—well, I may say, a seasoned, experienced 
mvalid. 

Doc needed a fee badly enough, but just 
then needed the air more and got out. 

Ma might send her love if I asked her, 
but I guess you'd better trim ship for the 
home anchorage. 

Dutifully, PlERREPONT. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 109 

Fite Herhi^'"'* '*''™^'^ ^^^^ L°^d Percy 
aaI .f^^?"^* engagement to Millfcent 
^Vheatle.gh has been broken off St 
seems she refused to marry him because 
of his family. It was a wife and three 
children m Maine, which is the nearest 
hes known to have ever been to London. 



LETTER NO. IX. 



LETTER No. IX. 

methods of courtship, relates an episode of 
calf-love and has a fling at matri- 
monial adages. 

Dear Father: '"*"'°°' ^"^^ "'' '^~ 

I realize that you mean well by me and 
I accept youradvice on courtship, love and 

marnage.andall that rot,in the spirit in 
which It IS given. But really, my dear 
pater, you are hopelessly in arrears in your 
information on those subjects. Of course 

HUn!ri '. ' •* .^^""^ r^^ru^z^. I cannot 
dispute that; It ,s too obvious; but in mat- 
ters of courtship detail you are back in the 
stagecoach age, hopelessly old style 
Nowadays, if a fellow is "spoons"" on a 

fTl "i'u '' '/ P"''"^ '" ''"•te different 
tashion than when you "sparked Ma" — 
as you rather vulgarly, as it seems to me 
express it. Methods have changed sinc'e 
your salad days, when courtship consisted 
of escorting the same girl home from sing- 



"4 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



ing school three weeks running and then 
going in the cherished " best suit " to " keep 
company " with her one or two evenings a 
week. The modern swain has an entirely 
different system, although I grant you that 
he makes an ass of himself quite as much 
as his predecessors. There is no more sit- 
ting in the back parlor with the gas low. 
All reputable back parlors are electric- 
ally illuminated and the situation is there- 
fore changed. I do not say, however, that 
lamps are not sometimes provided by 
thoughtful parents of large families of 
daughters of marriageable age. The aver- 
age young man, however, would regard the 
presence of a lamp in such circumstances 
as a danger signal, and run on to the first 
siding. No eligible young man likes to 
feel that he is walking into a specially set 
matrimonial trap. 

As you may judge from the florist's bill 
brought to your attention, Cupid, nowa- 
days, is very partial to flowers. In your 
day a straw ride once or twice a winter, a 
few glasses of lemonade or plates of ice- 
cream, and church sociables and picn'cs 
were about the only obligations attendant 
upon making a giri think herself your par- 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



"5 



ticular one. To-day hot-house roses and 
violets, boxes of chocolate, appreciated only 
when expensively trade-marked, matinee 
tickets, auto rides, dainty luncheons with 
chaperons on the side -but I could fill 
two pages m enumeration of the little, but 
expensive attentions which the up-to-date 
city girl demands. And all these thines 
may mean much or little. Because afel- 
low runs up a florist's bill is no sign that 
his next purchase will be an engagement 
nng Lots of fellows with lots of money 
buy lots of things for lots of nice giris and 
no questions asked. You certainly don't 
want your only son and heir to be a rank 
outsider. "^ 

As a matter of fact, the joke is on you in 
regard to that biUof ^52 for roses sent to Ma- 
bel Dashkam and charged up to me. To be 
sure, I don't quite see how the thingreached 
you at the Springs. Pollen & Stalk ought 
to be called down good and plenty for chas- 
ing you around the country with a thing 
they should have known you took no in- 
terest in. It reflects on me, and I'll see 
th?' ich a gross insult isn't repeated But 
about the joke. I didn't send the roses to 
Mabel Dashkara at all. Since dallying 



Ii6 



LETTEKS FROM A SON 



with hogs I seem to have acquired an im- 
proved taste in girls, and her face doesn't 
warm me in the least. The fact is that 
little Bud Hoover, who is just at present in 
town, living a life of mysterious ease, has 
conceived the idea that he could stand be- 
ing Job Dashkam's son-in-law. He thinks 
there is a gold mine in the old man's back- 
yard, evidently ; he isn't at all afraid that 
Job will ever borrow money of him — and 
he's right there. 

Well, it came around to Mabel's birth- 
day, and Bud, who'd been doing the grand 
social at the house for some time, saw that 
it was up to him to celeorate the occasion 
with a " trifling nosegay," as he put it. He 
nailed me for the wherewithal, urging that 
I was in duty bound to help a struggling 
young man to a position. When I couldn't 
quite focus my approval on that proposi- 
tion, he declared that I owed the service 
to him because his srrandfather had saved 
my father's soul. That was a clincher, and 
I let him get the roses and charge 'em to 
me. As you say, most young fellows who 
explode fifty-two for flowers at one blast 
will wish they had the money for provisions 
some time or other. Not so with F \ 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 117 

however; he never can be poorer than he 
.s now and he calculates to eat on Job for 
the restofh.s natural life. There's a good 
deal of his grandfather in Bud 

You needn't worry about my acquaint- 
ance with Mabel. She's bully good sort 

clusio^fr.f''- ' ^""^P ^'' *° *he con- 
clusion that he sits up nights trying to fit 

her name into metre. That's what I like 
about her. A fellow can invite her to go 
golfing without any danger of her knocking 
he ball into the fir.t grove she sights rh a! 
l^f^^^f^'^^oraproposal. Thegirisare 
not as dead crazy to marry as they were 

true ■ '""'^^^ *'''"''" ^''^t^t '« 

f.-Jr'", '"^*""'°'"'a' adages and observa- 
tions please me quite considerably, dear 

iftlfe V '" It";? ''""' ^'"'^^ y°" had your 

moved r^ T^ ^"^'^' ""-^ ^''^ *°^'d has 
moved a bit since then, but at the same 
time you stnke twelve pretty often. You 
warn me against marrying a poor girl 

think of but one thing worse, and that's 



ii8 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



marrying a rich girl who's been raised like 
a poor one. And what you say about pick- 
ing out a good-looking wife is eminently 
sane, if not always practicable, I'm bound 
to observe, however, that if you'd put your 
theory into practice when you married, I'd 
probably be a good bit handsomer than I 
am. As for Mabel, she wouldn't marry me 
if I could move the whole Graham plant 
into her father's backyard on the wedding 
morning. Her father's curbstone broker- 
age in wheat may not be as high-class or as 
remunerative as trying out hog fat, but it's 
certainly less malodorous. 

Besides, Mabel has aspirations. Al- 
though I am not in her confidence, she is 
known as committed to the theory that 
love in a cottage — or its municipal equiv- 
alent, a flat — is an obsolete form of exist- 
ence. The legitimate inference is that the 
eligible men who are several times million- 
aires in their own right had better wear 
smoked glasses when they get up against 
Mabel. Marriage, to date, does not appeal 
to me strongly. I hope to trot quite a 
number of speedy miles alone before I 
have to slow down under a double hitch. 
Naturally, considering the fact that I am 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 1,9 

your son and in view of your business. I 
have^^not escaped a few attacks of "calf 
measles '"'''''"^ '' " " inevitable as the 
The worse case I ever had was when, in 
my first year at Cambridge. I made desper- 
ate love to the accompanist who banged 
the p,ano for the Glee Club rehearsals. 
iJhe was a widow with a small child-who 
always accompanied her. and her desolate- 

trficTh'T^ *° '"""'^ * hidden.. sympa. 
thetic chord m my nature. Whatever the 
cause I was dippy for fair. I fairly bom- 
barded her with music, and the kid must 
.we thought me an edition de luxe of 
Santa Claus. It's only fair to say that she 
seemed to try to avoid me, but I was not 
to be turned aside. I insisted on seeing 
her to her door after rehearsals, and then 
stood under her window for hours, like a 
cross between a hitching post and a jack- 
as& She was courteous, almost maternal 
in her attitude towards me. The boys said 
sje was thirty-five, but I scorned them. 
What was age to love, which is eternity 

Sometimes she smiled at me and" I 
bounded up into the seventh heaven, 
although I often wondered if she wa^ 



130 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



J' 



i 



only too well-bred not to laugh outright. 
(Her father and husband had both been 
connected with Harvard.) She was pretty ; 
I have no doubt of that, even now; but 
her hair was flaming red. I called it 
Titian then, but love is color-bhnd with 
all the rest. The "fatal day" came in 
about SIX weeks. I proposed in the front 
hall of her boarding-house and she took 
me into the parlor and closed the door. 
That would have been the overture to a 
breach-of-promise suit or a Dakota divorce 
purchased by my loving papa, if she had 
been some women, but she wasn't. She 
thanked me for the honor— I have since 
realized that she was not afraid of a white 
lie — and then she began to try to argue 
me out of it. She referred to the disparity 
in our ages, to her widowhood and my 
youth, to the difference in our stations, 
etc. Of course I pooh-poohed it all and 
vowed everlasting devotion. I dimly rec- 
ollect that I made some mention of the 
Charles River. After I had delivered a 
passionate oration that would have given 
a long-time discount to Demosthenes and 
Romeo rolled into one, she looked at me 
searchingly a moment and then rose and 
said: 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. .-3, 

co^dTtZ"'"' ' "•'' '"-'^ y— one 
What were conditions to me ? I _ vo„ 

n„f \r'" ^° i°. ""y '■°°'"'" she said, « and 
put the condition in writine th J fh? 

"wjerh'^^"^'""^^'"^!!?^^^^^^^^^^ 

When she returned she placed in mv 
Plettraff ^"?;°^^ ^"' --"ed"r 
reactd',l;y ro^o^"'' "°' °^^" '^ -«' ^ 

sai7'rn!^-^°".'^"°^ t''^ condition," she 
said at parting, "you are still determined 

tro:r.^^°"-•■"«"^--•ntiII"ir 

the enve ope, spread out the single sheet 
of paper it contained, and read • * 

Ihe condition upon which I will ent^r 
tarn an offer of marriage from you Is S" 



133 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



;f 








1 


i 


,^ 






■ 1 


' 1 






, , 




1 
1 


1 





I am, unfortunately, unduly sensitive about 
the color of my hair. Will you dye yours 
the same red to keep me in countenance? " 

I scarcely imagine she waited till noon 
the next day, — that is, if she had anything 
to do. She probably explained to the kid 
that Santa Claus had died suddenly. I 
didn't recover my self-respect nor my com- 
mon sense for a week. When I did I sent 
her a box of flowers and enclosed a note in 
which I said that ever afterwards I should 
regard red hair as tl^e accompaniment of 
strong common sense. 

As for now, there is scarcely any danger, 
as you suggest, of a girl marrying me for 
your money — that is, if she has seen you. 
You look as if you were a goodly represen- 
tative of a line of ancestors dating back to 
the original Methusalah. Natural demise 
is evidently afar off, and really there is 
nothing about you to suggest that you are 
likely to blow out the gas in the next hotel 
you stop at. 

As for love, I've none of the symptoms. 
There isn't a girl in Chicago who can 
boast that I've let her beat me at golf. 
Almost all girls are all right to meet occa- 
sionally, but when you're picking one to sit 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



"3 



opposite you at breakfast every morning 
you want to be sure you will get one who 
will not take away your appetite. It's 
safer, I believe, to select a wife for what she 
IS not rather than for what she is. Al 
i'ackard -you know him -with his father 
on the Board of Trade - married his wife. 
Sophie Trent, because she was a brilliant 
conversationalist. Now he has applied for 
a divorce for the same reason. A man 
and his wife should be one. of course, but 
the question often is, which one? It is 
rather trying to the male disposition to 
have the wife the one and the husband the 
cipher on the other side of the , i ^ign 

That you may feel more coi -e'in 

me. I will make a confession. I was a bit 
smitten last fall. I won't tell the girl's 
name. She had rfeally done nothing to 
encourage me. I called one afternoon and 
her little sister received me and said. " Sis- 
ters out." 

^'Tell her I called. Susie, will you?" 

I did," she smiled back. 
That ended my pool-selling on that race 
You don't say anything about your con- 
dition at the Vattery, nor when you are 
coming home. You needn't hurry, neces- 



124 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



sarily, for Ma's disquiet about your where- 
abouts has quite disappeared. It seems 
that old Wheatleigh, who bobbed up at the 
house the other night, must have divined 
her suspicions, for he remarked casually 
that he'd just seen you at the Hot Springs 
and that you were looking out of sight. 
The odd part of it was that he hadn't been 
anywhere near Arkansas. It's curious how 
a woman will believe all men but her own 
husband. 

I think I must be making a hit at this 
billing business, for I hear a rumor about 
the place that I'm to be sent out collecting. 
I sincerely hope you'll use what influence 
you've got to prevent this, for I can't even 
collect my thoughts in this porkery, much 
less gather in accounts due it outside. I'm 
afraid I've got too much conscience to face 
debtors to Graham & Co. 



Your V-'iartwhole son, 



P. 



P. S. — Talking about women suggests 
that I tell you that old Mrs. De Lancey 
Cartwright is evidently heartbroken over 
her husband's loss, although he's been 
dead six months. Her mourning is so 
deep that her hair has turned black again. 



LETTER NO. X. 



LETTER No. X. 

First experiences "on the road" inspire little 

confidence on the part of Pierrepont either 

m himself, the Graham goods, or 

country hotels. 

FosTERvinE, IND., March 4, 180— 
My Dear Father: 

Although I have not succeeded to date 
m getting far enough from Chicago to es- 
cape the odors of your refinery and have 
yet to ascertain how a man looks when he 
gives an order, I feel that I am going to 
like bemg a drummer. There is a certain 
independence about it which pleases me. 
While I of course, shall labor early and 
late in the interests of the house, there is a 
great deal in r having a time-keeper star- 
ing you m the face every morning. The 
call left at the hotel office is sufficient re- 
minder to me of the flight of time, espe- 
cia lly after I have sat up till 4 a.m. trying to 
make things come my way. I may not, as 
you hint, be cut out by the Lord for a drum- 
mer. In fact, I don't believe I was for 



138 



LETTERS FROM A SON 






from what I have seen of the species I am 
of the belief that the Lord does not num. 
ber Its manufacture among His responsi- 
bilities. At all events it is sufficient for 
me to know that you, the head of the house, 
have selected me as one. 

Let me reassure you on one point I 
may have looked chesty and important 
when I started from Chicago the other 
morning, but my experience as a drummer 
for Graham & Co. has so completely 
knocked the self^steem out of me that I 
don't believe my hat will ever cock on one 
side ^in. It's all right enough to sit in 
the office and talk about the big business 
you have built, but just get out into the 
worid and stack up against the fact that 
youve got to sell our stuff to suspicious 
buyers or lose your job, and you'll find 
yourself a first-class understudy for Moses 
in short order. 

The first two days out I felt so proud of 
the house that I added " Graham & Co." 
to my name on the hotel register. But I 
dropped that little flourish just as soon as 
I saw that it got me the worst room on the 
key-rack and the toughest steak in the din- 
ing-room. What on earth have we been 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 129 

ScVthem Sf ^''''='^* thirty yean, that 
maices them all down on us? I see that 

I m going to have no trouble in making the 
concern known; in fact, if I m"y venture 
to say so. ,t seems to be too Jell known 

For some reasons I regret leaving the 
.W' >f "''"^?^ "ay go on well enough 
m my absence, but it's a mighty poor fid- 

as , did before he breaks a string T 
thank you for your hints as to methods in 
soliciting trade, but I also appSe th" 
truth that, after all. the man'^on S spot 
must give the decision. So far. I see „o 

tmveller Ar'''''?^ '° '^' commercial 
tra /eller. (I may say m pass ng that I nurh 

prefer this phrase to drumme? aUhougM 
am prepared to admit that afte; I seU a bil 
of goods Imay be ready to accep a^y «tle 
Jokes may not be profitable as the mah 
2^^tj^.l.ttheyarecertain^r 

custonier before he has falle? in'o the 
clutches of one or more of my competitor 
and when I arrive they are usually'S S 



'30 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



' ?1 



nous over funny stories that business — 

especially serious business, like the buying 
of our products — is the thing farthest from 
their thoughts. Because a man who wanted 
to sell you a dog once indulged in flippant, 
but you must admit, clever repartee about 
your needing such things in your business, 
you must not dr- • the inference that the 
sense of humor has entirely departed from 
storekeepers. 

Of course the joke must not be on the 
prospective customer, as was that of " >e dog 
fancier in your case. I found that .at to 
my sorrow the other day. I had almost 
persuaded a country grocer to try a couple 
of pails of lard and a ham — not munificent, 
but a beginning -when I tipped the fat 
into the fire by being over keen to take a 
joke. A small boy came running in with 
a wad of paper, apparently containing 
money, clutched in one fist and a card in 
the other hand. 

" How much is ten pounds of sugar at 
5 J cents a pound? " he asked. 

"^ Fifty-five cents," said the grocer. 

"And a quarter of a pound of 6o-cent 
tea?" 

"Fifteen cents— to your mother" — 
smiled the grocer. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 13, 

"And a half peck of potatoes at 28 cents 
a peck ? •• asked the boy. ^ 

."J°"rteen," said the grocer. 

each " said'ihT' °* *°'"t'°" *' "i «"'» 
" iLffil boy consulting his list. 
^ Just fifty cents," said the grocer. 
_, And SIX pounds of rice at 3} cents ? " 
rwenty-one cents. Is that all ? " asked 

t^hegrocer.astheboyputhiscardinhis 

col'ty-'"" '^''^ '^^ ^°^'' "^''"* ^°^' '"t all 

The grocer figured with a bit of charcoal 
on J. bag and said: "A dollar fifty-five 
Will you take the package ? " 

door^^-'lC!"''' '^'^°" "-'?'"? towards the 
door. I m on my wa> .. school." 

Very well, 111 send it right up," said the 
grocer, urbanely. »«"a rne 

" M^.""!''";* ? ^ ^""^ y°"'' «^'d the boy. 

Ma aint at home. She don't want the 
stuff, anyhow. That was only my V £ 
metic lesson." ^ " 

As the lad vanished I laughed and said 

bon voyage • to my prospective order. 

The worst of it is, the boys say that this 

father. But it taught me that it is some- 



I3i 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



times wise to be deaf, dumb and blind to 
the point of a joke. 

Unfortunately, I am short on the joke 
market, and to date have been unable to 
meet the keen competition I encounter in 
this line. Job Withers, a big^faced, big- 
voiced chap, who travels for Soper & Co., 
spins yams with the speed, ease and pene- 
trating quality of a well greased circular 
saw. When he goes into a store he looks 
about, comments on any changes or im- 
provements that may have occurred since 
his last visit, asks the proprietor about his 
dog, if he has one, and about his wife, if he 
has not, sits on a barrel and says ; " Did I 
ever tell you— ?"At that there is a great 
shuffling of feet and all the store loungers 
. sit up and take notice. Then he launches 
into a story and follows it with another and 
another. Then, v hen the boss is wiping 
away the tears thai come with the laughter. 
Job pulls out an order blank and, with a 
look about the store, says: "I see you're 
almost all out of— " and he writes off a list 
of things. Before the echoes of the laughter 
have ceased the order is rolling along 
towards "the House " in the custody of a 
twe-cent stamp. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHEK. I33 

If there is one thing needed more than 
Tn 7j,V" f- '"?''"""* '' '^ hypnotism ; and 

Withers has Mesmer and Professor Car- 
penter backed clear over the divide. It's 
no tnck to sell a man anything he wants, 
but unfortunately no one ever wants any! 
thmg. The Job Witherees see to that 
by their delicate attentions in keeping 
everybody stocked up. A man'l! never get 
he V H. Cfrom-theHouse" till he 
learns how to sell goods that his customer 
doesn t want, -nd I tell you. pater, a good 
swif game of talk -the right kind -is 
what gives the shelves and refrigerators of 
country stores indigestion. If you pursued 
a different policy I do not wonder that when 
you tried travelling voa I,.d.as you hint. 
to run the last quarter in record time in 
order to anticipate a request for your res- 
ignation. 

But I have a suspicion that you have not 
dealt squarely by me. I will be frank and 
tell you why. In view of the paucity of 
my supply of stories -and nothing, I as- 
sure you. but extremity would have induced 
me to do It - I overhauled your letters the 
other day and weeded out the best of your 



134 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



iiiii 



anecdotes and tried them on some of my 
mtended customers. It immediately be- 
came clear to me why you do not believe 
m story-telhngas an adjunct to trade. You 
must have been less philosophical during 
your brief stay on the road than you are 
now, otherwise you would have realized 
that the failure of your crop of anecdotes to 
yield a harvest does not prove the futility 
of planting a different class of seed. The 
well-known facts concerning our hams do 
not demonstrate that there are no good 
hams in the market. 

One thing is sure. I shall send "the 
House " an order before the week is out. even 
It I have to eat the stuff myself. It really 
can't be worse than the food I get at someof 
the hotels. The hotel in the town before 
this was a wonder. I asked for a napkin and 
the table girl said they used to have them 
but the boarders took so many with them' 
that It was too expensive. I guess they 
ate them in preference to the food. I told 
the girl I'd have a piece of steak and an 
egg. She returned, cheerful but emotv- 
handed. 

" I am sorry, sir," she lisped, « but cook 
says the last piece of steak has been used 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 135 

added, with a smile evidently intended to 
be engaging. But I didn't care to be en 
gaged, at least not to her. 

saidSkbir^"'"^^"'^^^'"^*"-^"^ 

../',f°"^'.S'r>" chirped up Bright Eyes 
but cook's ,ust beaten up the egg. She 

says you can have your share of h in the 
« «T^ pudding at dinner." 

withTol'^'''' • ^°" ^°^' *^"" ^ " ^ demanded 
wun some acrimony. 

."Hot lamb, cold lamb, roast lamb and 
mmced lamb." she gurgled. I su£uent"v 
ff^^f "f that they sheared thelamb a 

s;stdS^^^*'^«--^"-- 

rules, It would be all right. No £tels 
cornp ete without a long list of " SoX fo 
Guests, plastered on the inside of the door 
e"SiSer ^'^^ ^^^^^'^'^ *° -w^th 

me .nH *i ^' '"^""■^ '^'^ "°tbing for 
me and the porter weighed 285 pounds I 
conformed to this rule.) t-ounas i 



136 



LETTEKS FROM A SON 



• " In event of fire an alarm will be sounded 
on the gongs if the night clerk is awake. 
The fire-escapes are in the office safe. In 
case of fire you can have one after you have 
paid your bill." 

It is hard to get a decent night's rest in 
these hostelries. If it isn't one thing it's 
another. Last Saturday I was so tired that 
I felt I wouldn't care if I jumped Sunday 
right out of the calendar. S unday morning 
I was sleeping beautifully when there was 
a rap on the door. 

" Been't you a goin' to git up ? " came a 
squeaky voice. 

" What time is it ? " I asked. 

" Half past seven," was the reply. 

" Get up ? No, go away," I shouted. 

" Breakfast comes in half an hour," said 
the squeak. 

" Don't want any breakfast," I thundered 

back. 
"All right, the other boarders do." 
"What in blazes is that to me?" I 

snarled. 
"We want your sheets for tablecloths." 
Do not worry. I shall not write long 

letters to "the House." They will be as 

short as my expense account will permit 
Your hungry but hopeful son, P. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 137 

Of mv I,n?<!5 ^^^ ^^^^' "°''' '^'^ '"y recital 
ot my hotel experiences make you laugh? 

think they wouldgoas a part^of my sample 
line of stories for the trade ? ^ 



LETTER NO. XL 



LETTER No. XI. 

PUrreponi meets with some curious experience 

"on the road," attends a " badger fight," 

and relates some of his adventures 

in country hotels. 

Hahrod's Crmk, Ind., April i6, 189— 
Dear Dad: 

There's no use in telling me that I've 
got to dream hog if I want to get a raise— 
for that's what all this rumpus on the road 
amounts to, after all. There's no need, I 
say, to enforce the lesson, for I have por- 
cme nightmares every time I go to bed out 
in this uncivilized country. And I do 
wake up with determination — the deter- 
mmation to do something to get back to 
dear old Chicago, if I have to do the Weary 
Waggles act over the pike. When I think 
that I used to disparage our city in com- 
parison with Boston, I feel very humble 
indeed. In comparison with the villages 
Ive struck since I've been the avant 
courier of Graham & Co., Chicago is a 
paradise which no sensible man ought to 



143 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



m 

II,;? 
i 



depreciate. Milligan used to tell about a 
purgatory to which wandering souls have 
to go for a bit of scrubbing up to fit them 
for the good things of heaven. Of course 
he referred to experience on the road. 

You complain because my selling cost 
in this sort of life just balances the profit I 
turn in to the house, but I think it should 
be a source of great satisfaction that 
you've got a son who can so rise superior 
to circumstances as to pay his way with 
the Graham incubus hitched to his shoul- 
ders. It's worth something to make an 
Ananias of yourself a dozen times a day, 
with bad dreams thrown in at the end of it. 
A liar is popular only when his cause hits 
the popular taste, and I've yet to find a 
town where our bluff is worth more than 
twenty-five cents in the pot. 

Of course life isn't all a vale of tears, 
even during the quest for orders. There 
was a rift of sunlight yesterday at Simkins- 
ville Four Comers, where I assisted at the 
annual Spring dog-and-badger fight. This 
function is gotten up with such a regard 
for the proprieties that even a college man 
has to give it his approval. I happened to 
arrive in town on the day of the festivity. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



'43 



and just naturally wanted to see it. A big 
crowd gathered in an open space back of 
the town hall, and all other interests were 
neglected for the time being. Even the 
Presbyterian minister was on hand to see 
that the thing was carried out in a fair and 
square manner, and I felt that with such 
spiritual backing the fight ought to be a 
good go. 

There was a good-sized box in the centre 
oi the ring, under which some one told me 
was a badger of exceptional fiercepess. 
About ten feet away was a bull terrier who 
looked like the veteran of a hundred fields. 
He was kept in leash by a muscular negro, 
and the way he strained at his chain con- 
vinced me that badger was his particular 
meat and that he ate a good many pounds 
a day. 

At the time I arrived on the scene there 
seemed to be a difference of opinion as to 
who should pull the string of the box and 
liberate the badger. Finally the row grew 
so intense that an election was proposed, 
and nominations for the exalted office were 
made. But every one who was mentioned 
seemed to have some out about him. He 
had bet heavily on either the dog or the 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



r/^ 



badger, and such a thing as pulling the 
string with impartiality was tb'^ught to be 
out of the question. Meantime the odds 
were being chalked up on a big blackboard 
amid the excited roars of the crowd, and it 
began to look as if there wouldn't be any 
dog-and-badger fight at all. 

Just at this point somebody suggested 
me as the proper string-puller, on the 
ground th<it I was a stranger and not 
biased either way. " Besides," he u rged, " as 
a college athlete he is an expert on sport." 
Then the whole crowd yelled " Graham, 
Graham," and I felt that I ought to re- 
spond to the confidence imposed in me. 
So I made a little speech in which I said I 
was highly honored by the nomination and 
would accept the duty with the firm deter- 
mination to do unswerving justice to all. 

I took the string as the bulldog was 
making frantic endeavors to get at the box, 
and turned my head away so as to give a 
pull that should be absolutely fair. Then 
the umpire began to count, amid the 
breathless silence of the crowd. At the 
word " three " I gave a tremendous j ik 
at the box, and — well, the result wasn't 
exactly conducive to the dignity of yours 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



145 



truly, for there, where I had uncovered 
what was supposed to be a fierce badger, 
stood a full-fledged cuspidor. 

I don't know which looked the sickest, 
the dog or I, but he had the advantage of 
Deing able to sneak off into the crowd, 
while I had to stand and take the wild 
cheers of the populace like a true hero of 
the Graham stock. It cost me conside^ 
able to wipe out the disgrace in drink for 
the gathering, but it simply had to be done 
if I am to sell any goods in this vicinity. 
And as what I am out for is orders with a 
capital O, it follows that I've got to have 
the capital necessary to get 'em. You 
understand, of course, and will approve my 
r 'xt expense account with a glad hand. 

in this town I am staying at the Eagle 
Hotel,— a hostelry that would probably 
carry you back to your boyhood days. It's 
the kind where one roller-towel does duty 
for every one ir_ the washroom, and a big 
square trough filled with sawdust is the 
general office cuspidor. There's no table 
in my room, of course, so I'm writing this 
on the slanting pine board they call the 
writing desk, listening to the shouts of the 
natives and the stories of mine host. Major 
Jaggins. 



146 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



The major is a slab^ided, lantern-jawed 
individual, who got his title all right in the 
war, as his two cork legs prove. He's a 
very tall man, and when I ventured to 
remark on his unusual height the crowd 
roared and voted that I was elected to 
" buy." All strangers buy on this particu- 
lar proposition, I was told. 

It seems that Major Jaggins was a regu- 
lar sawed-off before the war, and he felt his 
lack of height keenly, especial' ' as he had 
a soaring mind and |had to answer to the 
name of "Stumpy.' Pi t his time came. 
At the battle of Cold Hirbor he had both 
legs taken off by a shell. When he came 
to he gave a ' ''of delight that paralyzed 
the nurses ai... ..early scared the rest of 
the hospital to death. He was simply 
thinking of what he was going to do on 
the leg matter, and he realized that he 
wasn't going to be " Stumpy " Jaggins any 
more. After he was cured he just gave 
his order to the cork leg people to make 
him two of the longest pins he could stand 
up on. Consequently he now walks the 
earth a trifle shakily, to be sure, but way 
above the general run of mankind, and 
that's what he likes. He swore he'd been 
short long enough. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



'47 



I simply mention the case of Major 
Jaggins as a reminder that nature doesn't 
know everything, and that art sometimes 
has the last word. Even if I'm not cut out 
by an obliging providence to be the pro- 
prietor of a big packing house — and your 
letters sometimes have a pessimistic ring 
that implies your belief that I am not — a 
good deal can be done by kindness and a 
judicious expenditure of money. Which 
leads me quite naturally to remark that 
your ideas of a travelling man's expenses 
are evidently founded on your early knowl- 
edge of pack-peddling. Then again, these 
country yokels have to be conciliated, and, 
although whiskey is cheap, they have 
blamed long throats. 

This hotel belies its name, for they say 
eagles don't feed on carrion. But it's no 
use kicking at the table, for Major Jaggins 
simply stivers out to the pantry and brings 
back a lot of Graham cans which he places 
at your plate with an injured air. I sup- 
pose he has the same gag for the drummers 
of all the different houses, but it's effective, 
just the same. 

Apropos of hotels, I have discovered a 
curious fact : the farther you go the worse 



140 



LETl'EKS FROM A SON 



;fii 



1 



they get, and even if you strike a good one 
occasionally it only increases your sorrow, 
for comparison augments the future misery. 
It's no use to try to pick your hotel. No 
matter which one you select in a town, 
you'll be sorry you didn't go to the other. 
And if you make a change and go to the 
other you're dead certain to regret that you 
didn't know when you were well off and 
stay where you were. 

It's no use to complain. I've tried it 
Night before last I slept in a room that 
was apparently a gymnasium for rats. 
About two o'clock, yvhen they began to use 
the pit of my stomach for a spring-board, I 
went down to the office and pried the clerk 
out from behind the cigar counter. 

" See here," I said, " I can't sleep, there's 
so much noise." 

"Sorry, sir, but I can't help it," h% re- 
plied, flicking a dust atom from the regis- 
ter. " This is a hotel. The Sanife>rium is 
on the next street. Ever try powders ? " 

"What on?" I queried, not to be out- 
done, "the rats?" 

" Rats? I do hope ye haven't got them. 
The last man that — " 

"No, I haven't got *em, but the room 
has. They're all over the place." 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



149 



"Rats, eh?" and the clerk gave the 
register a twirl. " Let's see, you're in 51 — 
dollar room. Couldn't expect buffaloes at 
that price, could ye? " 

I stayed in the office the rest of the night 
and in the morning the clerk pointed me 
out to his chief. 

" That gent," he said, " has insoraniay." 

"That won't do, young man," said the 
landlord, with a withering look. " We can't 
have such things in this house. It's a 
family hotel." 

I tried making inquiries, but it's no good. 
Every man in town will swear that some 
particular hotel is " the best this side the 
Mississippi." Foolishly enough, I tried to 
quiz the clerk of one house, while I was 
registering. I wound up a few queries 
about the table with the conundrum, "Are 
you^(Eggs fresh ? " He knew the answer. 

" Fresh ? " he drawled, looking straight 
at me. Then he rang a bell, and cried, 
"Front I" The one bell-boy appeared 
from somewhere, eating what was once 
an apple. 

" Gent to hund'erd an' thirteen," said the 
clerk. "An', boy, stop at the dining-hall 
on your way back and tell the head waiter 



ISO 



LETTERS FROM A -SON 



that this gentleman is to have his eggs 
laid on his toast by the hens direct." 

That was the end of my attempts at 
previous investigating. Now if I cannot 
eat the food, I content myself with chew- 
ing the cud of bitter reflection. But I'd 
barter my immortal soul for a square meal 
at mother's round table. 

The time I've put in at the different 
grocery stores to^lay has served as a regu- 
lar eye-opener to me, as to the game I'm 
up against. Apparently nobody in this 
whole country except the patrons of the 
Eagle eat any packed provisions at all, 
and our special brand seems to be a dead 
one on all the shelves. I couldn't give the 
stuff away, much less sell it I did place 
one order for a hundred pails of lard, but 
I learned to-night that the fellow is going 
into insolvency in a day or two, so I guess 
you'd better not send the stuff. 

Taking it by and large, I have discov- 
ered that a thorough course in hypnotism 
would be the best equipment for a suc- 
cessful salesman of our particular kind of 
goods. For instance, if I could look old 
Sol Blifkins of the Harrod's Creek Bazaar 
and Emporium in the eye, and make him 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



151 



believe that folks were just clamoring for 
frankfurts instead of rum in these parts, 
and compel him to see a blank space 
where our j^ed cans are still lumbering 
his shelves, I fancy the thing would be a 
cinch. One of our fellows at Harvard, the 
son of an Episcopal bishop, wrote me a 
while ago that his father had decided upon 
his taking orders, and that it was a blamed 
hard proposition; I don't know what his 
special line is, but if it can match this 
gunning for pork buyers he has my sin- 
cere sympathy. 

I keep running across Job Withers. I 
think he's detailed by his house to watch 
me. He arrived at the City Hotel this 
morning just .as I was leaving it to go 
on a still hunt for a ham sandwich. He 
greeted me cheerily. 

" Ah I been stopping at the City ? C^od 
hotel. Fine table," 

"hit?" I said calmly. • 

"Yes, indeed; best this side of Indian- 
apolis." 

Thank heaven, I'm going the other way. • 
I didn't tell him that. What I did say 
was : " You say this is a good hotel and 
a good table?" He nodded. "Well," I 



»5a 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



went on, " let me tell you a story." That 
staggered him, for I saw he realized that 
if I'd reached the story stage I was due for 
business. 

"There was once a little boy," I pro- 
ceeded, "who was sitting on the walk 
under a green apple tree, doubled up 
with cramps and howling like a pocket 
edition fiend. A bespectacled lady oi 
severe cast of countenance, stopped and 
asked him his trouble. ' Them,' said the 
boy, pointing to the tree, ' and I 've an 
orful pain.* 

" ' Pain 1 * said the lady, ' don't you know 
there's no such thing? You only think so. 
Have faith and you'll have no pain.' 

"'Geel' said the boy, 'that's all right. 
You may think there's no pain, but,' rub- 
bing his stomach dolefully, ' I've positive 
inside information.' And so have I about 
this hotel," I said to Withers as I left him. 
Confidentially, I think Withers' label reads 
"N. G." My one object in life is to put 
him off the reservation. From now on 
watch 

Your hustling son, 

PlERREPONT. 




Pierrepont Graham as a TraveUing SaUsman, 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 153 

P. S. Please ask the cashier to forward 
an immediate check for enclosed voucher 
— a bill presented by the landlord of the 
Eagle Hotel. The "medical services" 
were for typhoid fever, contracted by his 
family. It appears that your drummer 
who came here last fall emptied part of 
the contents of his sample case in a vacant 
lot back of the hotel. 



4 



LETTER NO. XII. 



LETTER Na XII. 

Pitrrtpmtt puts one o/ the paUmaHheories into 

txecu/ton with unfortunate results and 

recites some drummer's yams with 

philosophical addenda. 

Muddy Fork, Ikd, April ii, 189— 
Dear Father: 

Ti)e tone of your last letter isn't alto- 
gether pleasing to me, nor does it reflect 
credit on yourself. You hint that be- 
cause I am patient under this life of hard- 
ship and abuse, spent in trying to convince 
people that what they know about Graham 
& Go's, stuff is all wrong — you hint, I say, 
that I am a mule. If that is so, your knowl- 
edge of natural history ought to show you 
that you are not patting yourself on the 
back to any great extent; you are my 
father, you know. You remind me of what 
Johnny Doolittle, who used to live next 
door to us, once s,aid to his father when the 
old man remonstrated at his lack of table 
manners. 

" Johnny, you are a perfect pig I " shouted 
old Doolittle. 



I5» 



LtriEKS FROM K SON 



• Well, pa," replied Johnny, as innocent 
as could be, "ain't a pig a hog's little 
boy?" 

I mention Johnny merely to remind you 
that the sort of reviling I have been getting 
of late out here in this God-forsaken coun- 
try, on duty for the house, has its recoil and 
you're the fellow who's getting hit. It's 
worse than old Elder Hoover's famous gun 
that Uncle Ephraim used to tell me about 
According to him, there was a big rabbit 
hunt one day, and the Elder was persuaded 
to join. Some of the backsliders had 
rigged up a gun for his special use, loaded 
with a double charge of powder and shot 
and rammed tighter than glue. At last 
Doc drew a bead on a big jack and let go. 
When the roar had ceased and the smoke 
lifted, the Elder was seen on his back, paw- 
ing the air with hands and feet and shout- 
ing for help. 

" Did the gun kick. Elder? " asked one 
of the bad hunters. 

" Kick," roared the good man, " it nearly 
kicked me into hell, for if I hadn't been 
so stunned I'd have taken the name of the 
Lord in vain, as sure as I'm a miserable 
sinner." 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



»59 



Now if you want me to kiclr. dear father, 
I can do a job that would make a Missouri 
mule look like a grasshopper. I'm shod 
with good hard facts which you know as 
much about as I do. If decency doesn't 
suit you, ni give you an exhibition of 
bag-punching that will make your head 
swim. 

I now beg leave to report on the result 
of one of your pieces of advice as to ways 
and means in selling. A little while back, 
you remember, you said that I was pretty 
sure to run into a buyer who would bring 
me a pail of lard which he would say was 
made by a competitor, and ask what I 
thought of such stuff. Then, when I had 
condemned it by and large, you allowed he 
would tell me it was our own lard and the 
store would have the grand cachinnation on 
me. What I ought to say, you observed, 
was, that I didn't think So-and-So could pro. 
duce such good stuff. That would clinch 
an order, sure enough — still according to 
you. 

Well, I ran into the identical thing at 
Higginbotham Bros., in this town, fust as 
I was nailing an order for 200 pails with 
Lige Higginbotham, his brother Nat blew 



i6o 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



in with some lard that he said was made 
by Skinner & Co., our big rivals, and asked 
me what I thought of that for a bucket of 
slush. 

I had presence of mind enough to re- 
member what you had said, and I told him 
that it was a blamed sight better lard than 
I thought Skinner & Co. were capable of 
putting out. Then I waited for the laugh 
at Nat's expense, but there wasn't any. It 
was very, very quiet, a stillness relieved only 
by the working of Lige's jaws on his quid. 

" Well," said he, after a pause that I knew 
was deadly, " if you, a competitor, say it's 
good lard, why, gosh dang it, it must be 
all right. A nd seein' that Skinner's always 
treated us white, I guess I'll telegraph that 
order for 200 pails instead of givin' it to 
you." 

You see the lard was Skinner's, as I saw 
a minute afterwards by the cover on the 
pail. This little incident gives me serious 
doubts whether you can safely regard all 
men as liars. 

There happens to be quite a jolly crowd 
of drummers of various persuasions at this 
hotel just at present, and last night we had 
a little seance in the smoking-room for 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



i6i 



mutual inspiration and advancement. The 
talk naturally got rather shoppy at last, and 
the fellows began bragging of the business 
they did. A drummer for grindstones said 
that he thought he'd average up about 
six sales a day, and a fellow in whiskey al- 
lowed that he would make at least ten. 
Then a Hebrew, who travelled with neck- 
ties, declared that he could take in about 
a dozen orders, and so it went. I modestly 
admitted that I was handicapped, and that 
two sales per diem were about all I could 
attain to under the circumstances. Of 
course that's more than I do make, but, as 
you say, you've got to impress the world 
with the fact that you're some pumpkins 
or you won't get assessed at even cucum- 
bers. 

They'd all got through their little yams, 
except one thin-faced, quiet chap who sat 
in a comer and didn't have much to say. 
Finally the Hebrew pounced on him, think- 
ing he'd have some fun at his expense. 

"You hafn't told us vat you do, mein 
frent," he said to the quiet fellow. " Efery- 
pody must speak in this exberience meet- 
ing. How many sales do you make ? " 

The man looked up with a sort of weary 
expression on his face and replied: 



l63 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



" Well, if I make one sale a year, I think 
I'm doing pretty well." 

" Von sale a year I " exclaimed the de- 
scendant of Aaron, with a pitying smile. 
" Von sale a year! Vy, vot do you travel 
for?" 

" Suspension bridges," replied the quiet 
man, and we all regarded our cigar ashes 
in silence. After a while we suspended the 
Hebrew from the association for not mak- 
ing good at the bar. 

One of the crowd is a Boston fellow who 
is out selling encyclopedias. He has the 
usual Hub classicism, aided and abetted by 
a desire to ask conundrums. He hit every- 
body good and hard, and then landed on 
me. 

" Why are you so different from Circe ? " 
he asked. 

Of course I gave it up. Does anybody 
ever guess conundrums they don't know ? 

" Because Circe turned men into hogs, 
while you are trying to turn hogs into 
men," he replied, and I started for bed 
then and there. Always on the hog 
always 1 When will it end? 

This town is full and boiling over with 
drummers. I never r>aw so many in one 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



163 



day in my life. There is more shop talk 
going on here to-night than occurs in a 
week in all the Siegel-Cooper stores. I 
verily believe that there are ten men here 
to try and sell something, for every man 
there is to buy. Somehow or other the 
town has assumed the proportions of a 
junction, or a drummers' fair. The tov/ns- 
people, they say, are much excited over it, 
and the village constable is at the town 
hall swearing in two deputies. As Job 
Withers has made himself very conspicu- 
ous during the day, I think the reason for 
the reigfn of terror is evident. 

Job, by the way, had a bit of the conceit 
taken out of him at the depot this evening. 
Several of us were down there to inquire 
about trains, etc. As no train would stop 
for nearly an hour, none of the station 
hands were about. Withers took the fact 
as a text and delivered a short, but exceed- 
ingly ornate, sermon to the crossing flag- 
man on the moribund condition of the 
town.' He fairly tore its repuiation to 
shreds. Finally, with one finger laying 
down the law in the palm of his other 
hand, Job fired this at the defenceless old 
flagman : 



wfiiKnvmiiitMir.i 



t64 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



i 



" I tell you, sir, this town needs more 
life and energy. Something needs to 
come along and shake things up." 

Just then the Inter-state Express dashed 
by at sixty miles an hour, and "some- 
thing " came along. It was a heavy mail 
bag tossed from Uncle Sam's car, and it 
took poor Job plumb in the centre of 
gravity. Over he went, like an Arabian 
acrobat. When we picked him out of the 
ditch he looked like what's left after a 
Kansas cyclone. But he was game. 

" Boys, this time the laugh's on me," he 
cried. " The evening's artificial irrigation 
will be charged to my house." 

I hate to do it, but I must. When Job 
tries to cut me out of a trade with his 
stories, I'll make him the hero of one of 
mine. Then I guess I'll coax a little 
business by his fat sides. 

Speaking of trains, reminds me of the 
laugh some of the boys had on Sol Lichin- 
stein the other day. He was to take the 
3.30 out of Michigan City, and about 
quarter of three his great bulk — he is 
very corpulent — was seen dashing down 
the street at furious pace. A half hour 
later two or three other drummers, who 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



I6S 



Station, 
" What 
one of 



had proceeded leisurely to the 
found him still out of breath, 
made you run so, Sol ? " asked 
them. 

" Hang it all I " he answered, " the clock 
in front of the jeweler's store in the hotel 
block was wrong. It said 3.20." 

" The clock on the post, Sol ? " asked 
one of the party. 

" Yes ; confound it I " 

" Well, Sol, that clock's said 3.20 every 
time I've been here for four years. The 
hands are painted on." 

When the story was told to a party of 
us, one man spoke up after the laugh and 
said: "Well, it's not surprising. Lichin- 
stein is always chock full of business." 

I met him to-day for the first time and 
found this statement is true. He is 
chock full of business — liquor business 
is his line. 

Apropos of business, I may state that I 
think you must find some cause to con- 
gratulate yourself on the gains I am 
making. As you say, new methods are 
better than old and I am beginning to 
believe I have discovered a few of them. 
It has taken me some time, for it's hard to 



•^Se^ 



166 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



teach an old dog new tricks and, although 
I'm not so old, still I'm somewhat removed 
from the young pup you once called me. 
Still, an old dog can learn new tricks — 
by himself. Old Gabe Short, of Harrod's 
Creek, says the only reason you cannot 
teach an olr) dog new tricks is because he 
has got on to the game and refuses to 
learn 'em, knowing that he will be called 
up to perform for company. Old Gabe 
knows, for he has heaps of opportunity for 
observation. He hasn't done any work for 
over thirty years. The story goes that he 
was such a coward at the outbreak of the 
Rebellion that he said, that rather than go 
to war he'd stay at home and lick stamps. 
And he did it, too. After all the men went 
to war he got the postmastership. 

Gabe has a fat old water spaniel who is 
too lazy to do anything but eat and chase 
fleas. The latter task is usually performed 
in half-hearted fashion. One day— but 
I'll try to tell it as old Gabe does. 

" One day an out-of-town dog was friendly 
with Neb and after he left there seemed to 
be a heap o' worry on my dog's mind. 
He just couldn't keep still. It was scratch 
here and nibble there. Fleas never seemed 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



167 



to Stir him up like that afore and I made 
up my mind that the strange cur had im- 
ported a new brand of the critters. Finally 
the old fellow was so bad that I gave him a 
dose of flea powder. Seems like it druv 
the varmints all into his tail, fur he chased 
it fur hours, as he hadn't done since he was 
a purp. I was busy and anyway I'd used 
all the powder I had. He's so fat he 
couldn't catch that tail and it was funny 
an' a bit pitiful, too, the way he went after 
it. 

" Finally, just as he seemed driven to des- 
peration, he stopped short. He stood and 
looked around at that tail. Then he 
slowly backed up against the counter till 
his tail laid alongside. Then he pushed 
hard and grabbed. When he got through 
chewing that tail if there was a flea left it 
was mincemeat." 

I merely mention this in passing to illus- 
trate that experience is a pretty good 
teacher, and that it must be your own ex- 
perience—no one's else will do. Your 
counsels and rules of life are very enlight- 
ening and all that, but they are really of 
little value compared with the hard knocks 
of actual experience. You may explain to 



i68 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



a boy till you're black in the face that fire 
is a dangerous element to monkey with, 
but it takes a few burnt fingers to instill 
real dread of a cannon<:racker. You are 
giving me the experience and I have no 
doubt that it's the best thing that could 
happen to me. But really, father, you 
may overdo it- Your anxiety for my ■ ;'ture 
may make my present unduly uncomfort- 
able. 

In this connection I am reminded of a 
story told by the pastor of Tremont Temple 
in Boston, Dr. George C. Lorimer, in a 
lecture that I attended. He didn't vouch 
for the truth of the story, but thought it en- 
forced a moral. " A nestful of linnets," he 
said, "were in a field in India. Their 
mother had flown away and left them. 
They were cold and hungry and flapped 
their wings and cried. An enormous 
elephant chanced to note their plight. 
" Poor little things," said the elephant 
' No mother, no one to keep you warm and 
nestle you. My mother's heart aches for 
you. I will nestle you and keep you warm.' 
And the elephant, in pure goodness of 
heart, sat down upon the nest of poor little 
linnets." 



TO HIS SKLF-MADK FATHKR. 169 

It may not be out of order to mention 
that you quite frequently sit upon 

Your loving son, 

PlERREPONT. 

p. S. Just a suggestion. A leading 

grocer here says, that if the labels on our 

canned goods did not display the name 

Uraham so prominently, he tUjnki he 

could sell some of them. 



LETTER NO. XIII. 



MiaiOCOPY «ESOlUTnN TIST CHAIT 

(ANSI ond ISO TEST CHART No. 2) 




mmi 



1.6 



/1PPLIED IN/t^GE Inc 

1653 Eait Main StrMt 

Roehaatw, N«> York 14609 USA 

(716) 482 - 0300 - Phone 

(716) 288-5989 - Foi. 



LETTER No. XIII. 

A farmhouse, a farmer's daughter and bucolic 

pleasures and pastimes give Pierrepont a 

respite from commercial activities, but 

not from the study of pig. 

DooLiTTLB Mills, Inj>, May 25, 189— 
Dear Father: 

I take it that you are now enough of a 
philosopher to suppress any surprise you 
may feel to see a letter dated at this 
outpost of civilization. I admit that it's 
somewhat off the beaten track for the 
distribution of lard and pork products, but 
I got here legitimately enough, as you shall 
learn. The people hereabouts raise their 
own hogs, and I believe it would interest 
you to see the real article. Their lard is 
so attractive in appearance that I mistook 
It for vanilla ice cream when shown some 
last night, not stopping to think that your 
simon-pure farmer never uses his cream 
for such frivolous purposes. However 
their stuff showed me that the nearer you 
get to nature and the farther from the 



174 



LETTERS FROM A SOW 



■ •' 



stock-yards, the more respectable an animal 
is the pig. 

But to the adventure that brought me 
here. I left for the southern part of the 
state yesterday morning on the Galling 
Gun Express, and all went well until we 
struck a cow at about noon, a few miles 
from where I have pitched the Graham 
headquarters. The cow is now beef, all 
right, but the locomotive is also scrap-iron. 
The track was blocked for keeps at the 
lonely crossing where the horror occurred, 
and there seemed to be no escape from a 
dreary wait for the wrecking train. But I 
investigated, and soon discovered an an- 
cient farmer with a horse whose meridian 
of life had long since passed, jogging along 
toward somewhere — anywhere, away from 
the slough of despond in which the cow 
had deposited us. I grabbed my samples 
—which, by the way, are of no earthly use 
in this section of the worid — and begged 
for transportation. I got it for twenty-five 
cents and a cigar whose antecedents I fain 
would forget, and started for the interior. 

It was an interesting locality where we 
brought up. Doolittle's Mills are appar- 
ently so named because there's so little 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



175 



{f- 



doing in them that the building which 
gives the place its name looks like a 
church where all the citizens are atheists. 
Once a year, in the time of the early spring 
freshets, they saw a few boards for exer- 
cise. But just now the farmers have the 
call, and the call is usually the tin-horn 
summons to dinner, which is the only 
sound that awakes any interest in the 
people. Just now they are putting in po. 
tatoes, corn, and beans, and the only fertil- 
izer they use are cuss words and hard 
cider, which go well enough together at 
the start, but don't hitch worth a cent at 
harvest time. 

My rustic benefactor was christened 
Martin Van Buren Philpot, but long use 
has shrunk his cognomen considerably, 
and he is now known as " Vebe." He has 
a big quiverful of children, the thirteenth 
of whom arrived about three weeks ago. 
"Vebe "has named him Theodore Roose- 
velt, and is still waiting for the silver mug. 
Says he's afraid the thirteen part of it will 
queer the kid's chances. 

You would like Mrs. Philpot, I think. 
She is full of homely philosophy and has a 
fact to match. Her cooking, though, 



176 



LETTERS FROM A S'>N 



might be improved by a course of training 
under Oscar of the Waldorf. I don't just 
remember the sort of biscuits Ma used to 
produce, but if they were anything like 
* '.'s. Philpot's I can account for your dys- 
pepsia. 

The little Philpots are sportive creatures 
who insist on showing me the pigs about a 
dozen times a day. I believe I unwarily 
dropped a hint as to my occupation when 
I arrived, and they seem to think I want to 
see pork all the time. They call me the 
hog man, but they are such innocent kids 
that I can't show any resentment. This 
afternoon they took me out to the pasture 
to view a sit-still's nest. Said the mother 
bird was on the eggs and wouldn't fly, even 
when handled. Just before we reached the 
place two of them ran ahead, and Johnny 
Philpot clapped his straw hat on the 
ground and signalled me; to hurry. 

"She's here, all right, mister," said 
Johnny, quivering with excitement. " Now 
you jest stoop down, and when I lift my 
hat, you grab the bird." 

Slowly the brim of yellow straw rose, 
and with lightning-like celerity I dashed 
my hand through the opening. Then there 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



177 



was a sharp click and a wild whoop from 
myself as a steel trap closed its jaws on my 
fingers and held on like death. You never 
saw such delighted children in your life. 
The:' danced around me all the while I 
was trying to get the confounded thing off 
my hand, and said I "swore orful" I 
guess I did. After awhile Johnny helped 
me, and allowed I was real funny. He'll 
never know how near he came to a violent 
death in his happy childhood. 

The way these simple people combine 
busmess and pleasure would be a revela- 
tion to the packing house. I saw a good 
example of this peculiarity at a barn-raising 
that "Vebe" Philpot arranged for this 
morning. It showed, too, that the country- 
man was the original socialist. About 
forty farmers gathered at the place in vehi- 
cles that would simply make the Lake Front 
howl. Every man then visited the tool- 
house, where a tin wash-boiler filled with 
what they call here " horse's neck," a savage 
compound of whiskey and hard cider, occu- 
pied the place of honor. They tell me that 
"horee's neck" and barn-raisings are one 
and inseparable in these parts, and that 
any attempt to preach temperance at such 



178 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



% ■ 



hi 



occasions would lead to rioting. Ill do 
old Philpotthe justice to say that his wash- 
boiler was the real thing, and erred a bit 
on the side of hard liquor, if anything. 

Having gotten themselves in first-class 
trim, the barn-raisers proceeded to busi- 
ness. The way they do the work is this: 
Two uprights lying on the ground are fas- 
tened top and bottom by ciossbeams and 
a long pe is hitched to each end. About 
fifteen cien attach their persons to each 
rope, and the other ten jam big crowbars 
against the bottom beam to prevent its 
slipping. Then somebody yells "hist her 1 " 
and the crowd on the ropes tug like bulls 
and that part of the frame goes slowly up. 
They prop this up lightly to prevent its 
falling, and proceed to get the other end 
perpendicular in the same fashion. Then 
up go the sides to be cleated to the end, 
and the thing is done. 

But it wasn't quite done this morning, 
for just as the second side was being fas- 
tened in place by my genial host, who had 
been boosted up on the comer to do the 
job, one of the props broke, and the whole 
blamed frame, incl^^ding " Vebe," came to 
the ground in a grand crash. "Vebe" 



\ 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



179 



wasn't hurt very n.uch physically, but his 
spirits were greatly damaged. Father, you 
may think you can juggle expletives pretty 
well, you may believe that Milligan can 
swear good and plenty; but neither of you 
ever dreamed of such a Niagara of blue- 
streaked and sulphur-fumed cuss words as 
came from that irate farmer. The rest of 
the crowd lit out, after a farewell visit to 
the wash-boiler, for, as one weazened old 
veteran told me confidentially, "When 
'Vebe' war in tarntrums it war no use 
treatin' him like a civilized critter." 

To that mishap of the morning I attri- 
bute the rather doleful ending of some- 
thing that occurred this evening. It seems 
that old Philpot's son Ike got married ? 
day or two ago, and, after the poetic custom 
of the country, the neighbors determined 
to give him a serenade. To-night was the 
chosen time. I guess it was a surprise, all 
right, for when ^he awful pandemonium of 
tm horns, cow-bells, rattles, cracked cor- 
nets and whistles broke upon the peaceful 
air like a blast from a madhoi-3e, old 
"Vebe" made a dash for his double-bar- 
relied shotgun and let go twice into the 
crowd. 



ilo 



LRTTERS FROM A SON 



, 



" Dcrn fresh fools," he growled, as he 
cleaned his smoking gun. " Guess that'll 
season 'em all right." I was horrified and 
asked him if he wasn't afraid he had killed 
somebody. 

" Kill nuthin'," he snorted. " That thar 
was good honest rock salt. It'll melt 
inside their blasted pelts and sting like all 
pv ssessed, but that's all. Don't you worry 
about any of 'em dyin', they're too con- 
sarned tough." 

Of course Ike and his new wife appeared 
on the scene as soon as the rumpus began, 
and the young husband bitterly upbraided 
his dad, until I thought I should have to 
serve as rr'eree in a good bout then and 
there. Ike said that the old i n had 
ruined his credit in the town forever ; that 
he ne"er could hold his head up again. 
He appealed to me, and asked why fathers 
?'ways wanted to make jackasses of them- 
selves where their sons were concerned. I 
couldn't tell him, of course. Finally the 
household quieted down, but the upshot of 
it is that Ike is going to quit to-morrow 
and get out a handbill, saying that his 
father was drunk when the unfortunate 
affair occurred, and inviting the town to 



TO lli-> SELF-MADE FATilFR. 



I8l 



8( 'erade him again in his new home. You 
see it's almost a religious point with young 
couples in this section of the world that 
their banns be blessed with the most out- 
rageous racket man can deviso. They 
actually feel sort of shame-faced otherwise. 

Speaking of banns naturally leads me to 
remark, that however shy on personal 
beauty Mrs. Philpot may be, she has a 
daughter of the Ai pun> leaf brand. Her 
name is Verbena, and she can certainly give 
points to her namesake in the matter of 
s-.eetness. Naturally, she was somewh; * 
upset after the stirring experiences of this 
evening, and I felt it my duty to restore her 
equanimity, especially as I was a guest in 
the liouse. We sat for quite a while in the 
best parlor and Verbena grew somewhat 
confidential. She said she had a beau over 
at Bumstead Four Corners, but that as a 
sparker he was about as useful as a pig of 
lead. Asked me if I didn't think that city 
men had more real romance and n.ade bet- 
ter husbands. At this point I slonly with- 
drew my hand from her pretty one, for 
there wa<! something in the suggestion that 
looked ominous. 

I think I might have kissed Verbena 



i8a 



LETTERS FROM A SON 






good-night had not old Philpot appeared 
on the scene. I am almost inclined to be- 
lieve that he had some notion as to what I 
meditated and that he was simply a little 
ahead of time. For, before coming to my 
room to write, I strolled out for a smoke 
and met one of Philpot's neighbors, a gar- 
rulous old fellow. 

" Verbena's a likely gal," was the way he 
opened on me. I admitted it " Engaged 
yit ? " was his astounding query. Quietly 
but firmly, I denied the soft impeachment. 
" So-ho " he said, " Vebe's a-gettin' slow." 

Curiosity got the better of me and in a 
half hour's talk I wormed considerable in- 
formation out of my companion. It seems 
that the three Id >c girls married recently 
and that their husbands were travelling men 
who, for some occult reason, had penetrated 
into this country. In two cases there was 
an elopement, said my informant. 

"What did the father do?" I asked, 
thinking of old Philpot's shotgun. 

" Do ? " echoed the old farmer, " waal, he 
helped the hired man to sot the ladder 
under Dahlia's window, and when Lobelia 
skipped with her feller, ' Vebe ' routed the 
hired man out o' bed at two in the morning 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 183 

to hitch up the Dest hoss, so's he could fol- 
ler the elopers with the girl's trunk I tell 
yer. It's tough tripe to have so many d-r- 
ters in thi, country." 

I've made up my mind that Verbt i 
flier than she looks and that she and her 
- i man have an understanding. 

To-morrow I leave this sylvan retreat 
and start rnce more on the pursuit of the 
man who wants pig. I believe this little 
outing has f ven me new nerve, and that 
you will soo get Orders. More Orders and 

^L^! • I'^v^^'y trinity you seem to 
think has any holiness in it. I wonder how 
Verljena will take my df -rture. 
Youro iful son, 

PlERREPONT. 

P.S. I've been thinking over old Phil- 
potsrock salt shooting, and it suggests a 
great ide^ Why not kill hogs with volleys 
of he s u£f, thus obviating the necessity of 

bJ^nL'T' Oo I get a raise for this 
invention r 

P. 



LETTER No. XIV. 

A companionable deputy sheriff, a hospitabU 

townsman, and "the test-natured wife on 

earth " inspires Pierreponf s pen to the 

narration of lively incidents. 

Jasper, Ind, July a i, 189 — 
My Dear Father: 

I am surprised that my broker should 
have given you the particulars of my little 
flyer in short ribs — I mean ribs short — 
and in future I shall patronize another 
broker. The few hundreds I made in that 
deal I had relied upon to dispose of a little 
bill I owe in Chicago. When it started it 
wasn't quite so much like the national 
debt as it is now; but the fact is, I have 
been carting a deputy sheriff round the 
country for three weeks, paying for his 
time and board. Now you want me to r^ 
turn the check, endorsed to the treasurer 
of some orphanage. If you saw that dep. 
uty sheriff you wouldn't have the heart If 
I sent you back the check it was lost in 
the mail and we'll forget it 



i88 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



I've been so busy arranging to sell car- 
loads of our stuff that I really haven't been 
able to write before, but when I got rid of 
that deputy a great load was removed from 
my mind. It's a tough thing to go in to 
try and sell a hard proposition a bill of 
goods — this is a euphemism in our case 
— and know that the eye of the law is 
glued upon the' show-window, lest you es- 
cape by the back door. If I'm to keep up 
my present spurt in the market you'll have 
to raise the limit. Thirty a week might 
do for a drummer when you started busi- 
ness, but for a commercial traveller of to- 
day it's only tip money. I'm making good 
now, and if I'm not worth more than thirty 
I'm useless to you. I may mention in 
passing that I've had an offer from Soper 
& Co. to jump over to them. They don't 
know I'm your son. They know that I'm 
the same fellow who was at your mailing 
desk a while back, and probably cannot 
imagine that you would treat your only 
the way I was treated. You will agree 
with me that business is business and I 
can 1p rn it quite as well selling car lots 
for ooper as for any one else. A word to 
the wise — and to the cashier — is sufficient. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



189 



Don't worry about my becoming a vic- 
tim to gambling on margin. Your tip on 
thd market — that you will fire me if I keep 
it up — is valuable. I will see to it that you 
hear no more of my trading. I should not 
have taken this particular flyer had it not 
been for the fact that you wrote the last 
sheet of one of your recent letters on the 
back of a typewritten note from Gamble & 
Chance, in which they advised you that 
they had placed your order to sell ribs short. 
I just made up my mind that what was good 
enough for pop must be real velvet for 
sonny. You know you have always urged 
me to follow your example. I am quite 
certain that, now you are in possession of 
the full facts, you will revise your idea about 
that check. At all events, as I have hinted, 
that particular check is so full of bank tel- 
ler's stamps that its own father would 
scarcely know it. 

I never did take much stock in trading 
"on 'change." It's a form of gamblin 
V'iiere interest is sacrificed by the fact the; 
ycu do not see the ball rolled or the cards 
dealt. Even when you see the play you 
may be up against a brace game, so what 
can you expect when two or three big deal- 



190 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



era, like my revered parent, get together 
and mark the cards for a big game ? Any- 
way, I'd rather bet any day on something 
straight. If a man gambles on whether the 
sun will shine or not on certain days he 
may be unlucky enough to lose every trip, 
but he will at least have the satisfaction of 
knowing that no thimble rigging in some- 
body's back office introduced the clouds. 

Finance, as I understand it, is the art of 
making the other fellow's dollar work for 
the financier; but this requires a sort of 
hypnotism that I do not yet possess. I 
may grow to it ; indeed, now that I find 
nyself able to sell the goods manufactured 
by cur house, I am almost afraid to look 
a mirror in the face lest I discover that I 
am possessed of the evil eye. The " marts 
of trade," as the poet puts it, strike me 
as queer places. The interior of a stock or 
produce exchange is certainly an under- 
study for bedlam, if my imagination is 
correct. 

" Give you 86 for C.P. & N.," shouts one. 

" No," comes the reply, " want 86 and an 
c-'ghth." 

"All right" 

"Sold." 

" I'll Uke 5oa* 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. I91 

And nobody takes a thing, for the man 
who sells It hasn't got it and the man who 
buys don t want it. No wonder the poor 
lambs lose their fleece and their heads. 
Nevertheless, that short-rib check was a 
me-saver. 

I was actually so poor that I had to de- 
scend to hvmg in lodgings for three days. 
.Think of It the heir of Graham & Co. in 
odgingsl What would "the street" say of 
that? But I have found that the Graham 
credit IS all covered with N.G.'s at the 
hotels and I scarcely cared to come home 
with a deputy sheri£F among my excess 
baggage. So I went into lodgings in an 
over Sunday town. It gave me a lesson 
on the danger of officiousness that I'm not 
likely to forget, but. althr jh for a few min- 
utes I could see the dangc. lights of a sound 
thrashing dead ahead, it ended pleasantly 
Lodgings were hard to find, but the cigar 
store man finally recommended me to a 
place. The woman who answered my 
ring was willing to let me -and the sheriff 
-a room, but before we arranged term«= 
5he took me one side and made an ex- 
planation. 
Her husband, she said, was apt to stay 



192 



LliTTEKS FROM A SON 



out very late at night in convivial company 
and I might be disturbed by his noise when 
he c me home. I assured her that, as a 
patron of hotels, I was quite used to this 
sort of thing, and forthwith negotiated for 
the use of her front parlor. About two 
o'clock in the morning we we e awakened 
by the sound of bacchanalian revelry out- 
side the window. I looked out and saw a 
man on the grassplot in front of the house. 
He was just able to move — and howl — and 
his frantic struggles to get on his feet were 
funnier than Milligan's attempts to put on 
superior airs. 

"Ah, the inebriate husband !" I said to 
the sheriff, who agreed with me that it 
would be a good scheme to get him off the 
lawn and into the house. So we slipped 
on enough clothing to cover the law and 
the major part of out persons and went 
out. The serenader was light weight and 
we carried him up the steps without diffi- 
culty. He stopped singing long enough to 
roar: 

" Whas-yer-doin' — lemme go — lemme 
go, I tell yer." 

" Come to bed," I said, soothingly. 

" Done wan ter go ter bed — never go t' 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. I93 

bed Safday night," he hiccoughed. " This 
not (hic) my bed." 

We bore him into the front hall, and laid 
him down to get a fresh hold for the jour- 
ney upstairs. He was happy again and 
started a new song. Just then a light ap- 

fh^T l,*?t*^P °^ '^^ ''^"'' ^^■'^i saw 
the landlady s face peering over the balus- 
trade In my most courteous manner I 
asked : 

"fx/u'^T^""^''''" "Pstairs. madam?- 

Who? "she asked. 
" Your husband. " 
. She did not reply, but another voice did. 

I am her husband, sir," and another head, 
with a jolly face and a big moustache, ap- 
peared beside the landlady's. 

We dumped our operatic ioad across the 
street and hid my shamed head in the 
pillows, making a sacred vow that for ever 
more I shall keep very busy attending to 
my own affaire. This led to a very pleas- 
ant bunday for me — and the sheriff - 
however The landlady's >usband could 
take a joke - especially when it was on me, 
and at breakfast we became very good 
mends. He invited me to his club and we 

and the legal limb - spent the afternoon 



k ; 



>94 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



there. His face grew bigger and jolliet 
each hour, ami finally he became very con- 
fidential. Referring to his own peccadil- 
loes, he made the statement that he had tlir 
best-natured wife in the worid. I had no 
reason to controvert this, but he seemed to 
think that I doubted it, and went on to 
accumulate testimony. 

" We've never had a quarrel yet, though 
we've been married sixteen years," he de 
clared. " I'll bei that no matter what I 
might do when I go home, she'd smile 
through it all." 

This didn't interest me, but my legal 
guardian seemed curious. He even went 
so far as to doubt our friend. It wasn't 
long before they had patched up some sort 
of a wager between them. The husband 
was to go home to supper, appear intoxi- 
cated, raise a row, break dishes and others 
wise generally make an ass of himself. If 
his wife kept her temper it was on the 
sheriff, and vice versa. 

Bill — his name was William Jenks — 
started off ahead. We were to follow at a 
distance and observe results from the yard. 
Bill began to totter and sway as he neared 
the house, and presently Mrs. J. ran out of 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. ,95 

the front gate to meet him. She picked up 

't on and then kissed him. Then she 
Rujded his uncertain legs into the house 
When we reached the window which 

looked mto the parlor we saw Bill sitS 
on the floor, howlmg incoherencies at his 
wife who was trying to help him pull off 
h.s shoes. When they were off he com 

rnH"'K^-.-7"' '^"^ °" '"^^ mantelpi Je- 
andshedidit. Then he got up and stag. 

hTrtclTeT^str^'"^"'^^^"-^-''^^- 

ho'wkd.'* '^'^ ^'' **"" '°^' '^"y ^°^' " he 
" Oh, William, forgive me. I didn't know. 
I m so awkward. Did you hurt yourself? " 
And she tried to help him up. But he 
wouldn t get up, and continued to abuse 
her I,ke a pickpocket. Finally she in- 
duced him to go into the dining-room and 

i?H.r"vi''''"PP"'^'''«- As a pre- 
lude he shied a teacup past her head and 

t?r 1 k' ^^f' . '^^''^ ^' P""^d -way the 
tablecloth and with it the dishes, and sat 
down on the floor amid the ruins. 

Whatdid that wonderof a woman do but 
plump d' on the floor in front of him 



196 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



and say, with a smile as of gratified pleas- 
ure, "Why, William, isn't this nice? We 
haven't eaten on the floor since we were 
married. So like the old picnic days!" 
Then she -ied to rearrange the broken 
crockery id rescue the supper. It was 
too much for me, and I guess Bill thought 
he had gone far enough, for he began to 
smile and abandoned his assumed inebriety. 

" Mary, my dear," he said, " I brought 
home a couple of friends to supper. They're 
outside and — " 

" Brought home friends to supper," cried 
his wife, iumping to her icf.f " brought them 
home to supper, did yo ithout notice to 
me, when you knew it wa: tally's afternoon 
out ? I'll teach you," a. i she set both 
hands in his hi.ir and shook him. " I've 
stood your freaks for sixteen years and been 
patient md loving, but this is more than 
human . iture is capable of. Friends ? No 
warning? What would they think of 
me?" 

Our entrance relieved the tragedy, but 
Jenks was terror-stricken. The surprise 
was too much for him. For the first time 
he realized that even the most docile of 
women have reservations and that every 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



197 



worm has some turning point. He finally 
explained the joke and it was received with 
his wife's smiles. He was desperately anx- 
ious to square himseK nd then and there 
presented her with twenty dollars, to which 
the sherifl added the ten-dolJar bill which 
he insisted he had lost on the wager. I saw 
Jenks the following evening. " You'll never 
guess," he said, " what that woman did with 
the thirty?" 

I acknowledged my incapacity to cope 
with the sibject. 

" Bought me a smoking-jacket, a meers- 
chaum pipe and three boxes of Havanas. 
And, my boy," he added, " I've quit drink- 
ing. She's so good that I'm going to see 
all I can of her in my lifetime, for well 
keep house sep.i;ately in the next world." 

I guess he's right, for they'll certainly 
feel called upon to build a special alcove 
in heaven when she reaches there. 

Your snappy observation that the poop 
est men on earth are the relations of mil- 
lionaires strikes me in a very sensitive spot. 
I realize its truth, and I can assure you 
that if something is not done speedily to 
decrease the discrepancy between my in- 
come and my outgo, there will be a sensa- 



198 



Ml 



Si I 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



tional story for the newspapers, with cuts 
— cuts of you and me, with possibly a pic- 
ture of the hog plant thrown in for decora, 
tive purposes. If you think this would be 
a good ad., I'll play the cards as they lay. 
If not, please see to it that my expense ac 
counts are accepted more in the spirit in 
which they are made. 

My ex-guardian, the sheriff, has given 
me many pointers on how to escape the 
debt trap — it was after I settled his par- 
ticular claim - but I don't think you'd 
care to have me get a reputation as a 
shirker of obligations. Sometimes, though 
the escapes from the clutches of the law 
are very amusing. The sheriff tells of a 
good one that happened recently in Indian- 
apohs. It seems that a young spendthrift 
was arrested for debt on the very day he 
was to be married to a wealthy widow 
Knowledge of his plight would put an end 
to his expectations in this direction, and he 
was at his wits' ends as the two officers es- 
corted him along the street. 

In front of the City Hall a carriage was 
standing and as they approached the mayor 
of the city entered it and conversed for a 
moment through the window with a friend 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 199 

saw Lir" ffi*""^' ^^^ ^" inspiration and 
said to the officers: "You know that gen- 
tleman who got into that carriage ? •' 
^_Jfes, said one of them, "Ifs Mayor 

"Well, he's my uncle, and if I ask him 
he II see me out of this thing. You'll takS 
his guarantee, of course 

{JtoX'^!^f"l '^°l^^' '*^°"'^ besatis- 
rS^T., \''^" ^^^y ^^^^hed the car- 
tnT « u'"u""«^''^*=>^- Theyoungman 
00k of! h,s hat and put his head into 
th^e^carnage window just as it was about to 

" h'll !lf^ yo"' pardon. Mr. Mayor," he said, 
but there are two men with me who have 

^ -nT '" ^^ "^^«"t'> ward. They siv 
they'll be glad to work for you at the elec^ 
tion next week if you'll give them any 
encouragement." ' 

^ J Very well," said the mayor, •• bring them 

.n JI'k 'P^"'^*''"ft beckoned to the deputies 
and they approached. The mayor looked 
them over and said: "Come around to my 
office at 5 o'clock this afternoon and ?11 
the spendthrift borrowed half a dollar of 



300 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



one of the deputies, went and got shaved 
and then married. 

I simply mention this to illustrate to 
what extremities an appetite for truffles and 
mushrooms may lead a young man whose 
pocket money prescribes cheese sandwiches 
and spinach. For the honor of the "ame 
I must not be permitted to be set down as 
deficient in credit. This really must ap- 
peal to you. As you say man must not 
overwork a dollar, and the thirty of them I 
am now receiving per week get fatigued to 
a standstill within twenty-four hours after 
I make their acquaintance. 

Yours in trust, 

P. 

P. S. I would respectfully suggest that 
you do not show this letter to mother. The 
story of Bill Jenk's wife might not appeal 
to her. 



I 




Tbt Son's Society Girl. 



LETTER NO. XV. 



LETTER No. XV. 

7%€ oddiHes and humors of railroad travels appeal 

so strongly to Pierrepont that he writes his 

father of them, as well as of a breach- 

of-promise suit. 

Tall Laki, Mich., Sept 7, 189 — 
Dear Fathf,': 

Replying to your last budget of aphor- 
ism and advice, I must say that it pains me 
somewhat to find my own father skeptical 
as to the history of the fish I caught at 
Spring Lake. The only lies I have ever 
told thus far have been on the road for 
Graham & Co., and I'm not going to begin 
any outside prevaricating on such trivial 
articles as fish. By the way, why do they 
use the term " fish stories " as a generic 
description for falsehoods ? If the world 
only knew its business, " pork yarns " 
would be the synonym henceforth and 
forevermore. 

But a truce to the finny tribe I I note with 
joy that the wisdom of the " House " has 
decreed that I am to be assistant manager 



304 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



of the lard department on my return. Now, 
to be honest, there's nothing very fascinat- 
ing about tried-out pig fat, but the pros- 
pects of staying in good old Chicago right 
along atone for anything. We college 
men at first condemn our city because it 
seems the right and proper thing to do, 
after Boston; but let me tell you that a 
few months on the road will knock all that 
nonsense out of a fellow for good, and he's 
willing to swear that old " Chi " is the neai^ 
est copy of the New Jerusalem that's yet 
been invented. 

Allow me to congratulate you on your 
good taste, my dear father, in gilding the 
lard pail with the fifty per you mention. 
I haven't sold so very many goods, but I 
like to see that you recognize good inten- 
tions. I have always believed that the 
Grahani products could be made to sell 
better if certain imperfections could be 
eliminated, and these I have tried to point 
out to you, from time to time. It speaks 
well for your good sense that you haven't 
got offended at my blunt speech. Of 
course I can't help *eeling elated, also, at 
my rapid rise in ..le business. It isn't 
every young man who can climb from eight 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. a05 

dollars a week to fifty in about a year; it 

only goes to prove my pet theory that to 

the son of the "old man" all things are 
possible. 

I'm coming back to town with the firm 
determmation to make the manager of the 
lard department look like three battered 
dimes. As you say, it's my business to do 
my work so well that I can run the depart- 
ment wUhout him, and I'm going to bring 
that about pretty deuced quick, because I 
need his job. I rely on your shrewd sense 
of economy to fire him the moment he be- 
comes superfluous. 

Your observation to the effect that a 
man who can't take orders can't give them 
may be true enough in the pork-packing 
business, but did you ever watch a Pullman 
car conductor? The only person I can 
conceive of giving him orders is the porter 
*!l {^r'^T,^ here's sufficient .sprz^^e 
corps to lead the subordinate functionary to 
at least make a pretence of deference due 
and take out all his bossing on the passen- 
gers As you must be aware from the way 
lye been eating my way through mileage 
books, I ve made some long jumps lately 
It was necessary, for as soon as I gladdened 



306 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



t'l 



your paternal heart by becoming the " car 
lot man " you once expressed some doubt 
of my ever being, I saw at once that I had 
no business in towns where a car load of 
anybody's lard— to say nothing of ours— 
would last so long as to become eventually 
a public nuisance. My long railroad trips 
have broadened my point of view of life 
materially, and have incidentally given me 
no little amusement 

I tell you, father, outside of your letters 
there's no place where human nature can 
be studied so well as on a railroad train ; 
whether it is the nervous strain of travel, 
or the clickety-click of the wheels, or the 
rapid motion, a man on a train comes 
pretty near acting out his real nature. It's 
pretty hard to be a hero to a "Limited" 
conductor. Thanks to the methods of 
American railroading, democracy is at its 
zenith on the cars. True, we have grada- 
tions, but the people who ride second-class 
are seldom appealing, while the parior car 
is really very little of a barrier against the 
touching elbows of the most diverse ele- 
ments of society. For a collection of all 
sorts, commend me to the parior coach of 
an express. You are quite as likely to be 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



ao7 



bled in a game of freezeout in the smoker 
next to the buffet, as you are in a less ex- 
pensive portion of the train. 

There was a very merry crowd of ravel- 
ling men on the " Gilt-Edge " Express the 
other afternoon when I came through. It 
was a hot day and very few of the boys 
took the parlor, preferring the greater free- 
dom from constraint of the ordinary 
smoker. If this had not been the case, 
perhaps the incident which I am to relate 
— merely as a warning to you, for I know 
you take the "GIIt-Edged" occasionally — 
might not have occurred. 

The train stops at the Junction, you 
know, about ten minutes, and the majority 
of the boys got down to stretch their legs 
on the platform and get a bit of air, for 
even Indiana air is better than no air at 
all. As I strolled along, smoking, my at- 
tention was attracted by a young woman 
who was pacing slowly up and down the 
extreme end of the platform. As I am not 
especially observant of the fair sex, the 
fact that I noticed her at all is proof that 
she was considerably out of the ordinary 
in the feminine line. In fact, she was ripe 
fruif from the very top layer. 



w 



3o8 



LETTERS FKOM A SON 



li 



(■;... 



She had a music roll under her arm, and 
a tailor-made gown that, fitting perfectly, 
showed that not quite all the modern Ven- 
uses have been corralled for the "show- 
girl" department of musical comedy. It 
was little wonder, then, that one of the 
band of travelling men should have dis- 
entangled himself from his fellows and 
extended his promenade up into the reser^ 
vation affected by the Beauty, for closer 
inspection subsequently proved that she 
was entitled to the name and to the initial 
capital I've employed. The two paced up 
and down, as people will, and passed each 
other several times. It chanced that just 
as this passing v i abouf, to occur again, 
the music roll fell to the platform. A 
raised hat, a returned music roll, a smile, a 
murmured "thank you," were the preludes 
to a more extended conversation. 

I noted that at the fall of the music roll 
a slight laugh arose from several of the 
older fellows, but I paid no attention to 
it at the time, being otherwise engaged. 
When the train started the young woman 
was helped into the parlor car by her new 
acquaintance, and provided with a seat 
which, as he put it, he had secured for his 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



209 



•ister, who, at the last moment, had post- 
poned her journey. He was rather young, 
this travelling man, so his trepidation is 
explained. It was scarcely necessary, as I 
have since learned, for him to sneak out 
and surreptitiously pay for botfi seats. It 
was surprising how this little incident 
affected the railroad business. Almost all 
the drummer clan moved up into the pai^ 
lor coach. I imagined at the time th^* 
they envied their associate his prize and 
wished at least to share his very evident 
satisfaction by witnessing it. 

The young man was most gallant, and 
everything that the train boy offered, from 
the latest novel to chocolates and smelling 
salts, was left in the young woman's cus- 
tody. Never have I seen a train boy who 
made as many trips in a given time. The 
dining car had been put on at the Junction 
— the train, you know, gets in just between 
hay and grass on the meal question — and 
the porter's announcement had scarcely 
left his lips before the couple were at the 
table. Most of the boys went, too, and 
watched with evident delight the exquisite 
taste and lavish appetite with which the 
young woman selected from the a la carte 



(f 



3IO 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



i,; 



menu. I was one of the few who saw the 
check after it was all over, and its duplicate 
would pfactically annihilate half a week's 
salary for me. 

It was over quite soon, for, just as the 
pair had begun to sip their cordial, the 
train whistled and slowed down. I thought 
there must have been an accident, for the 
train is an express with no stops indicated 
between the Junction and the terminus. 
But the young woman was better posted, for 
she interrupted the flow of conversation 
and liqueur, by gathering up the benefi- 
cences heaped upon her, for sundry con- 
siderations, by the train boy. The young 
man ejcpostulated, but she nodded her 
head and said something in a low tone. 
Just then the conductor of the regular train 
came into the dining car. 

" Oh, there you are, Bessie ! I thought 
I'd find you here. Hurry now ! Remem- 
ber, you nearly got a fall yesterday by be- 
ing slow." 

The car was rosy with grinning faces by 
this time, but the red flush on the young 
man's cheeks was certainly the most con- 
spicuous feature. But I am pleased to say 
that he kept a stiff upper lip and assisted 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



t'nc young woman off the train. When he 
reiur-ed it was on the run — in the gather- 
ing ip of the books, boxes and magazines, 
i;;e young woman had forgotten her music 
roll. He had to throw it at her as the 
train rolled ahead. There was no hope 
for him ; he had to go back into the dining 
car, for the check had not been paid. 

As he opened the door he met the porter 
and hurled one question at him. "Why 
in thunder did the train stop here ? " 

" Stops ebry day, sir," answered the grin- 
ning son of Ham. " Dere's a bridge ahead 
an' we has to slow down, an' as Miss 
Bessie's de engineer's daughter, he makes 
it a full stop so she kin ride home on the 
Express" 

It was really pitiful what the young man 
was forced to endure as he walked back to 
his table. It is but simple justice to him 
to say that he stood his ground bravely, 
doubled the denomination of his check for 
the benefit of his guyers, and tried to drop 
vague hints as to future carriage rides. 

It was of no avail, however, for every man 
jack of them, except himself, knew that 
Bessie was an established institution on 
the " Gilt Edge," and that it was accounted 



J 



212 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



a pretty dull trip when she failed to add to 
the revenue of the dining car. Of course 
she is doing a certain sort of good in the 
world, on her daily trip from her music 
lesson, in taking some of the conceit out 
of fresh young men, but I really think it 
would be quite as well for her if shi rode 
on the engine with her father. 

The balance of that run was devoted to 
stories of somewhat similar experiences. 
Job Withers — he is sure to be around 
when anything happens — told one on 
himself which sounded a bit apochryphal, 
but is nevertheless worth repeating, as 
illustrating how easy it is to simplify a 
situation by speaking the right word at the 
right time. As Job tells it, he draws a 
verbal picture of a very pretty girl in a 
crowded car and confesses to having hon- 
ored her with glances more admiring than 
strictly decorous. 

" She was a beauty, boys, and no mis- 
take, and I envied the old lady who sat 
with her. When the old lady left the train 
I sauntered out upon the platform and 
stayed there till the train slowed down for 
the next stop. Then I wandered in again 
and, stopping beside the young Hebe, I 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 213 

inquired in my most dulcet tones, ' Is this 
seat engaged, miss ? ' 

"She Icoked up straight into my face, 
and her baby-blue eyes seemed to be 
making a bill of lading of me. Then she 
spoke up in a sweet, clear, distinct voice, 
that must have been heard in every part of 
the car. 'No,' she said, 'this seat isn't 
engaged, but I am, and lu is just getting 
aboard the train.' 

" And he was, six feet seven of him, with 
hands like friend Piggy's hams. I tell 
you, boys," concluded Job, " I felt about as 
cheap as the man who raised a warranted 
watch-dog from a pup, taught him to fetch 
and carry things, and, when burglars broKC 
into the house, discovered their presence 
without his dog's assistance, and found 
that the faithful brute was doing credit to 
his training by trotting about after the 
burglars with their lantern in his mouth." 

I got quite a shock to-day by the receipt 
of a letter, forwarded from Chicago, from 
one Silas Pettingill, attorney at Doolittle's 
Mills, Ind., informing me that Miss Ver- 
bena Philpot had decided to sue for breach 
of promise in the sum of $10,000. The 
only way in which this calamity could be 



214 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



li 



W: 



«i 



staved off, according to Mr, Pettingill, was 
by my going to Doolittle's Mills and mak- 
ing " other arrangements," which I firmly 
decline to do. Verbena is all right on her 
native heath, but I fear that transplanting 
her to Chicago wouldn't be healthful for 
her or me. Talk about your simple, con- 
fiding fanners and all that sort of rubbish I 
I believe that if old " Vebe " Philpot should 
come to Chicago and walk up and down 
State street a couple of times, he would 
have the biggest bunco artist in town 
skinned to his last nickel before sundown. 
As it is, however, the thing looks rather 
ugly, and I don't know but I had better be 
absent from home for a year or so. Why 
couldn't I be made manager of your Lon- 
don branch instead of monkeying with the 
lard department ? 

Your threatened son, P. 
P. S. In some roundabout way you may 
hear of the train escapade with the engi- 
neer's daughter. The boys on the road 
a.re no respecters of persons and are likely 
to make most any one the hero of a story. 
Should some hint connecting me with the 
affair reach you, it will be only necessary 
to recall that you heard the story first from 
me. 



LETTER NO. XVI. 



LETTER No. XVI. 

The Game of Golf, a most peculiar banquet a 
social lion's fall and his escape from threaten- 
ing legal meshes, inspire Pierre- 
pant's pen. 



Dear Father-. 



Chicaoo, Sept. 20, 189 — 



Your httle joke about being almost well 
and about broke at Carlsbad strikes me as 
about the limit in sarcastic humor. It's 
always so easy for millionaires to talk about 
being broke, that theyVe about the only 
ones who do it. It's the same with clothes 
you know. If I dressed like Russell Sage' 
you wouldn't have me in the lard depart- 
ment ten minutes. On the whole, I guess 
you 11 get back somehow, even if you have 
to draw on London for a thousand or two 
I don't mind telling you that I'm doing 
great work in my new position. I don't 
know whether the manager of the lard 
section could do without me or not but 
I m dead sure I could do without him. for 



3l8 



LETl'ERS FROM >. SON 






¥ 



a more pompous ass never yet brayed in an 
office. He told me to-day that I ought to 
be very thankful for the accident of birth, 
and I countered on him by telling him he 
ought to be devilish glad my father was a 
good-natured man. I think that when you 
get home, we'll revolutionize this depart- 
ment. I can already see that there is great 
waste going on here ; the amount of hog 
fat they are putting into the lard is simply 
scandalous. 

While I think about it, I want to ask 
you if you can't find a good place for my 
old college friend, Courtland Warrington. 
Court is a perfect gentleman, and would 
be an ornament to the packing house, if 
you could only manage to keep him out 
of Milligan's way. I think that wild Irish- 
man would kill him if he ever caught sight 
of his stockings. Of course Courtland 
ought to have something that wouldn't 
grate on his refined tastes and dignified 
style. Pasting labels on cans might do, 
but I don't think sorting livers would 
appeal to him. Anyway, I rely on you 
tff fix up something nice and genteel for 
Court; he is very unfortunate in having 
an unsuccessful father. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. aig 

I'll tell the Beef House people to look 
up the export cattle business, ?s you re- 
quest, and tell it to 'em good and hard. If 
there's anything I like to do it's to give 
orders to fellows that are not under me; I 
believe this shows that I have the making 
of a successful business man concealed 
within me. I'd like to know, however, 
what this General Principle is you speak 
of as being in my department ; up t" now 
I never thought there was any principle 
in it. 

Don't worry thr.t I am to become a golf 
maniac, dear dad. My first day on the 
links was my last, and the article you saw 
in that Chicago paper about my appear- 
ance as a putter was very misleading. 
The fact is that I had gotten half around 
the promenade when I unfortunately al- 
lowed my brassy-niblick, or something of 
that sort, to come into contact with my 
caddy's head, and the game ended at the 
moment he was carried away on a stretcher. 
The caddy's father, a Lullet-headed Dutch- 
man, who was utterly unamenable to reason, 
had me arrested for assault and battery, 
and it made terrible inroads into my sur- 
plus to get him to withdraw the charge 



320 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



and to square the police reporters. No 
golf for Pierrepont, so you may calm your 
perturbed spirit. If I want highballs, I 
know where I can connect with 'em, and 
the place isn't a thousand miles from the 
packing house, either. Curiously, they have 
a concoction there known as a " Graham 
Fertilizer." I tried one, and I must say 
that the man who could drink two must 
have a stomach of brass. 

Speaking of the stomach reminds me 
of a banquet. I can't imagine how it 
happened, but wh^n the news leaked out 
that you had gone to Europe, so soon after 
calling me in from the road, the impression 
gained currency in some quarters that I 
had been placed in charge at the " ' ' ise." 
You will appreciate that it's a preti> leath- 
ery sort of a proposition to have to go 
around denying a report that your own 
father has done the square thing by you, 
and explaining that you are in reality only 
first assistant manager of the lard depart- 
ment, and that a salt-pickled Celt named 
Milligan is still so far above me that I get 
a crick in the neck looking up at his 
exaltedness. 
So I decided that the best thing I could 



TO HIS SELF-MAUE FATHER. a»I 

do was not to deny the rumor and to ac- 
cept all the honors likely to be thrust upon 
me. This may be obtaining distinction un- 
dcr false pretences, but it's less embarrass- 
ing than confessing that one's father is so 
thoroughly under the domination of a man 
who eats, drinks, sleeps and thinks pig, as 
to Ignore the claims of blood and heredity 
What could I do, for instance, when a 
number of friends proposed to give a 
banquet in my honor? If I had refused 
they would have said that I was a hog 
myself, besides being in the business; for 
people who get up banquets for other 
people are really onl. eeking an excuse 
to give themselves a good time. How 
could I disappoint them? 

Anyway, the banquet came of? on the 
appointed date. It was really an elaborate 
affair, the sixty guests sitting at tables 
fa-Tlybuned in flowers. It was doubtless 
thought to be a delicate compliment to the 
guest of the evening — meaning your only 
— that a few feet down the table at whose 
head I sat, and facing towards me, stood 
the hfe-sized figure of a hog, done in white 
roses and with a pail of our lard in its 
mouth : but I submit that there are better 



333 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



appetizers than a reminder of the source of 
our prosperity. I accepted the situation 
and swallowed the pig— metaphorically, of 
course — with all the grace I could assume. 

The menu card at my plate was an ele- 
gant affair, evidently handwork, and was 
different in design from those of the others, 
although I was kept too busy in conversa- 
tion with my neighbors to read it. The 
service of the dinner was perfect, the well- 
trained waiters moving noiselessly to and 
fro and depositing the various courses 
without a word. A special attendant 
had evidently been assigned to me and 
I appreciated the distinction. The food 
that he served me, however, was, to say the 
least, peculiar. The soup tasted queer — 
like medicine; the oysters were replaced 
by curious tasting lumps served on shells, 
while the fish course was fishy cuoMgh in 
smell, but tasteless. 

I had eaten practically nothing, and when 
the entrees brought me only a spoonful of 
something that looked surprisingly like 
hash, I looked around at the other fellows. 
I saiv twinkling eyes, some of which fell 
upon the plates in front of their owners. 
A glance at the plates of my nearest neigh- 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



333 



bore showed that they were being served 
with quite different food from that which 
reached me. I began to smell something 
famihar, and surreptitiously glanced at my 
menu. The first thing that struck my eye 
was this line in gilt letters at the bottom : 
" This dinner prepared from recipes in 
Graham's celebrated booklet, ' 100 Dainty 
Dishes from a Can.' " 

You should hear the roar that went up, 
as the crowd saw that I was no longer shut 
out of their executive session. I could do 
no less than order up a case of wine (which 
you, of course, will pay for and charge to 
advertising account), and after that they let 
me have something to eat. It's a terrible 
thing to have one's father's business chick- 
ens come home to roost so frequently. I 
did not recover from this aflair for two 
days, which will explain the absence from 
the office, of which I have no doubt Milli- 
gan has duly informed you. 

I have had a hearty laugh over your story 
of Hank Smith and his attempt to butt into 
Boston society with money, a brass band 
and fireworks. Hank made the great mis- 
take of thinking that noise would go very 
far on Beacon street. And this just nat- 



334 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



urally reminds me of Baron Bonski, a self- 
made social lion, who had Boston's upper- 
tendom on tiptoe about the time I was a 
freshman in college. Bonski's method was 
the very antithesis of Hank's, and it worked 
as long as he chose to have it. 

The Baron floated gently into Boston 
one spring day, armed with letters of intro- 
duction to a few of the literatiirom men of 
prominence in Europe. He straightway 
attended various "afternoons" of poets, 
artists and Bohemian philosophers. He 
was a little chap with a sad, pale face, dark 
and soulful eyes, a voice as mellow as 
new cider, and a gift of gab unceasing as 
the flow of the tides. He hinted at tragic 
love affairs and allowed it to get around 
that he had been expelled from Russia for 
revolutionary work. He was modest and 
retiring, and the more he retired at the liter- 
ary functions the more people tumbled over 
themselves to dig him out. He made a dis- 
tinct hit without doing anything in par- 
ticular, except to look pensive and sow a 
crop of romantic rumors. 

The Baron quickly got next the residence 
problem in Boston. He hired a room in a 
side street, just far enough off Beacon 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



325 



Street to be cheap, and just near enough 
to catch the sacred aroma of that classic 
thoroughfare. He filled up his place with 
Oriental toggery, and kept it lighted dimly 
and religiously with queer Eastern lanterns. 
A mysterious odor always hung over the 
apartment. Here the Baron began to re- 
ceive the swells at five o'clock teas, over 
which he presided with a huge samovar. 
The thing was so new, so captivating, so 
full of charm, that half the society women 
in town, including Mrs. " Bob " Tiller, the 
leading lady of the whole bunch, used to 
drop in quite informally. 

They do say that the Baron became 
pretty well acquainted with the interiors, 
not to speak of boudoirs, of a good many of 
the great houses in town, and that his liv- 
ing expenses were pretty small during his 
first year in Boston. 

But in an evil hour P?ron Bonski fell. 
He decided that he wanted more money, and 
he could conceive no better way of getting 
it than by writing novels. He found a pub- 
lisher easily enough, and then he used his 
knowledge of society people for his books. 
He paraded the foibles of his friends under 
thin disguises, and even trotted out Mrs. 
" Bob " as one of his leading characters. 



336 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



The novels were pretty poor stuff, on 
the whole, but they got everybody hot, and 
the Baron's social star went down behind 
the iiorizon with a thud. Then his credit- 
ors began to worry him, his later books 
failed, ugly stories about his fraudulent 
title got around, and finally a, brother 
novelist lampooned Aim. At last the town, 
which had warmed toward him at first, got 
too hot to hold him, and he resigned in 
favor of the next impostor. 

I simply mention the Baron's case to 
show you that you can get into Boston 
society all right by knowing just how to do 
it, but that you've got to stick to your 
original role if you want to stay there. 

You will be gratified to learn that the 
little difficulty with Verbena Philpot and 
her pa is at an end. Although, when I asked 
your advice on how to meet the absurd 
charge, you politely informed me that it 
was my breach-of-promise suit, I know 
you will be glad not to find this particular 
Verbena blooming beneath your roof-tree. 
When you refused to aid me with your vast 
experience, I went to see. George Damon, 
who graduated from Harvard Law in my 
sophomore year. I told him the facts and 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 327 

he looked so solemn that I made up mv 
mind that all was over, and I tried to de- 
cide between Canada and South America 
as a place of residence. He never eveti 
laughed when I told him that old man 
_ Jt-hilpot had the reputation of bribing the 
drivers of rural conveyances to lose a tire 
ott a wheel when they were driving by his 
place with an eligible stranger as passen- 
ger. 

wrJ°" "^""'^ marry the giri?" he asked. 
With as much courtesy to Verbena as I 
could at the time command, I replied in 
the negative. 

"How much can you give to settle the 
thing? came next I said almost any sum 
but It would have to be in expectancy, for 
you had definitely declared yourself against 
any appropriation to take up mortgages for 
indigent farmers with beguiling daugh- 

"But you must get out of this without 
publicity." he said. " You'd be the laugh- 
ing stock of the town." 

I admitted it sadly and he said he would 
do what he could. He began by writing 
Matters but Papa Philpot was evidently 
too old a bird to be caught by legal chaff 



328 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



It was settle up, or marry and settle down, 
and that settled it. Finally, Damon told 
me that there was only one chance for me. 
He would go down to Doolittle's Mills and 
see the old man in person and try and ar- 
gue him out of it. I was deeply grateful 
that he should make it such a personal 
matter, but he said it wasn't much, he 
needed a vacation anyway. 

Well, he went about three weeks ago 
and I accompanied him to the railroad 
station in a great state of nervousness. 
Three days later I received a letter from 
him stating that, although he had not 
sounded the old man yet, he had some 
hopes. Two other letters reached me with- 
in the next week, but no definite result 
had been attained. 

Then I heard no more and for the last 
fortnight I have dreamt of bridal wreaths 
that changed into halters and wedding-cake 
with iron bars embedded in the frosting. 
Yesterday I received this telegram : 



"Niagara Falls, Sept. 19. 

I am on my wedding tour. Verbena sends kind 
legard*. 

Geoige Damon," 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 229 

I am much relieved, but my mind will 
not be at complete rest till I find out 
whether Damon is a modern martyr or just 
plain damn fool. 

Your freed son, 

Pierrepont 

P. S. I wonder if Damon— but there 
are some things in life before which even 
the most riotous imagination falters. 



LETTER No. XVII. 

A boomerang wager, a story o/minois Justice, and 

a futile attempt at small economy, furnish 

the inspiration for Pierrepont's 

correspondence. 



Dear Father: 



Chicago, Oct 21, i8j— 



The enclosed clippings will doubtless 
prove even more explanatory to you than 
to me. I regret to learn from them and 
others— for all the newspapers had it — 
that you are being squeezed by being short 
on November lard. Couldn't you substi- 
tute some of the September variety that we 
have been unable to sell ? It is naturally 
surprising to learn that you have become 
so involved, when I recall the wealth of 
good advice you have given me to avoid 
this sort of thing. I realize that you have 
the justification of a long line of precedent 
in not practicing what you preach, but do 
you think it wise to jeopardize the future 
of the "House " by being mixed up in deals 



234 



LETTERS FROM A SON 






of this sort, especially when you are not at 
home to look ^ter them ? Of course, had 
you placed the matter in my charge, the 
conditions to-day would be quite different. 

The gambling mania — and what is deal- 
ing in futures of grain or pork but gam- 
bling? — is certainly a terrible disease to 
encourage. No one who begins knows 
where he will leave off. Of course I do 
not presume to comment on your conduct; 
these remarks are purely impersonal ; but 
I must admit that I am glad you did not 
include Monte Carlo in your European 
itinerary. The late John T. Raymond, the 
actor, used to say that he'd gambled away 
several acres ' business blocks. Not that 
he ever own any, but he might have done 
so had he 'ot gambled. For he lost, as 
every man who gambles does in the long 
run, I am told. He would bet on anything, 
from the time of day to the complexion of 
the next person to turn a comer. 

His infirmity was well known in the 
theatrical profession and sometimes advan- 
tage was taken of it to lay pre-arranged 
wagers in which Raymond must get the 
worst of it. A veteran actor whom I met 
the other evening tells of an incident of 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



235 



this sort. It occurred here in Chicago years 
ago, when Raymond was playing "Mul- 
berry Sellers" at McVickers. One aftei^ 
noon he came into the hotel office and sat 
down to chat with some friends. As he 
crossed one leg over the other, a particu- 
larly striking pattern of fancy sock was 
exposed to view. Some one commented 
on the brilliant colors and Raymond held 
up his foot and looked at it admiringly. 

" Isn't it great ? " he said. " I found that 
in Wanamaker's in Philadelphia. I guess 
they had the only line, for I've never seen 
a duplicate of the pattern." 

"Come now, Mr. Raymond," spoke up a 
young actor. " They don't have all the 
good things in Philadelphia. Chicago has 
anything that any city has." 

" Most things, young man," laughed Ray- 
mond, "but not a stocking like this," and 
he surveyed it again critically. " No sir-ee, 
there's not another stocking like it in 
Chicago, I'll bet." 

"What will you bet?" asked the young 
man quickly, with a laugh. 
" Oh, anythmg," answered Raymond. 
"Cigars for the crowd ? " 
" Certainly, and the best in the house," 
agreed the actor. 



>i6 



LITTERS FROM A SON 



"You bet, Mr. Raymond, that there's 
not another stocking in Chicago like that 
one?" 
Yes." 
"Well, what's the matter with the one on 
your other foot?" cried the young man, 
triumphantly, while a roar of laughter went 
up from the bystanders. 

"Well," drawled Raymond, "strangely 
enough, young man, you have propounded 
a conundrupi for which I've been unable to 
find an answer. What is the matter with 
the stocking on my other foot? This is 
the way it came back from the laundry." 
He pulled up his trouser leg and exhibited 
a faded stocking that looked as if it had 
been exposed to some powerful bleach. 
"This certainly isn't like the other one. 
Now if there is one in Chicago I'd like to 
have it, for I never did care for a fancy- 
matched span." 

The young man had no zest for further ■ 
search. His own joke, the inspiration of 
the moment, had turned upon him and the 
arrival of the cigars he knew to be the best 
antidote for the general laughter and jests 
of which he was the victim. 
This instance of circumstances and a 




Tbt Son ai Maiugir of his fatbtr'i 
Pirh-fatking EstaHishmint. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



237 



laundry conspiring to defeat a practical 
joker may not have a dyed-in-the-wool 
moral, but it has a philosophical ring and I 
have often noted that your wise saws and 
modern instances often sound better than 
they look when dissected. Par example, I 
fail to see the application to me of your 
sententious observation that some men do 
a day's work and then spend six days ad- 
minng it. From your knowledge of me, 
as expressed in your letters, you cannot 
believe me guilty of the day's work. As 
for self-admiration, the glass which you are 
constantly holding before me is no flat- 
terer, and conceit has been thumped out 
of me with the unremitting persistency of 
a pile^river. After the perusal of one 
of your letters, I always feel so small that if 
I looked as I felt I'd be valuable as a 
midget. 

As you say, there is room at the top, but 
not much elsewhere. That's just exactly 
how I feel about the pork-packing business. 
In order to expedite my progress I, day be- 
fore yesterday, informed the manager of the 
lard department that either he or I would 
have to quit the employ of Graham & Co. 
In case he decided that I had better go, I 



238 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



warned him that it was my intention to 
take the first European steamer to lay cer- 
tain facts before you. I knew that it would 
be no use for me to appeal to Milligan, for 
It is a bed-rock principle of that dignitary's 
life that I am always wrong. The next 
day the manager of the lard department 
was not on hand. Milligan asked for him 
and I said, " I am the manager." 

" Umph I " he grunted (Did you ever 
notice how exceedingly porcine is Milli- 
gan's grunt ?) " Where's Welch ? ' 

"I discharged him yesterday," I re- 
plied. 

'^You— you discharge him? It's impos- 
sib e. You have no right," blustered your 
Hibernian auxiliary. 

««.",f^"'* ' ^^^ "S^''*?" I answered. 
Well, perhaps not." Then I told him 
one of my stock stories, a true tale of Illi- 
nois in the early days. A newly appointed 
Justice of the Peace had as his first case a 
charge of horse stealing. The accused 
man's guilt was palpable enough and there 
were grounds for belief that a recent epi- 
demic of this sort of thieving was to be at- 
tributed to him. At all events the J. P 
decided that it was no case for half way 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 239 

measures and that he would try it himself 
without wasting time getting together a 
jury. In about fifteen minutes he found 
the pnsoner guilty and ordered the con- 
stable to get the nearest available rope and 
hang the condemned directly. The horse 
thief had a friend within hearing, who, 
when he saw how things were going, went 
in hot haste after the only lawyer the set- 
tlement boasted. The "lawyer, inspired by 
a liberal retainer, galloped up in hot haste 
and sought the Justice of the Peace. 

" Your honor," he exclaimed at the close 
of a fervent plea, " you have no jurisdiction 
or power to condemn the prisoner to death. 
You can only hold him for a higher court 
You cannot hang him." 

" Wa-al," said the justice, aiming a quid of 
tobacco at the window, " you seem to know 
alot about the law an' I'm obleeged to you 
But as to hanging this man, if you'll look 
out that thar window p'raps you'll change 
your mind as to whether I kin do it or 
not." And he pointed calmly to a most 
potent argument, a body swinging from the 
end of a limb of a neighboring tree. 

"}. ^y "^ot liave the right," I added to 
MJhgan. "to fire Welch, but, by George, I 
had the power, for he's gone." 



340 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



The fact is — I didn't tell MilHgan, for I 
wouldn't give him the satisfaction — I hap. 
pened to learn that Welch was giving the 
" House " the double cross. For half a dozen 
years he's been running a sort of illicit still 
, for lard and been selling it on the quiet to 
our customers. As our business has grown 
rapidly and as his sales were but a flea bite, 
it was not noticed until I probed his secret. 

If it hadn't been for my affection for ex- 
ercise about a green table I shouldn't have 
spoilt Welch's sport. 

Old Si Higginbotham came to town last 
week and I met him one evening when he 
was pretty well steam-heated. He insisted 
on trying to tear up the cloth with a cue 
and, for the trade's sake, I gave him his 
head. The more games we played — with 
lubricants — the mellower he became, and 
before I could get him to bed he had wept 
the color completely out of the shoulder of 
my coat Incidentally he blurted out about 
Mr. Welch's neat side line, and after I had 
verified the facts I taxed him with it. 

As I do not want to interfere too much 
in the business during your absence, I have 
appointed no successor to my former place 
as assistant manager of the lard depart 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 24 1 

ment, but am holding down both salaries. 
There is really no need of an assistant 
The only duty of the manager is to boss 
the assistant and you ought to hear me 
order myself around. 

I'm not particularly enraptured with the 
job, and if you think I deserve further 
promotion please cable (at my expense). 

You will be pleased, I know, to learn 
that a week ago Thursday I quit smoking. 
It may sound strange to you when I say 
that I did it simply and solely because I 
was argued into it. I met Fred Penny, 
packer— J)aying teller in the Michigan 
National, you know — and offered him a 
cigar, which he declined, with the informa- 
tion that he had not smoked for five years 
"Heart trouble?" I psked. 
" No," he replied, "1 arriage." 
"Oh, wife objected ? ' 
" Not at all," he answered. " Mrs. Penny- 
packer likes the odor of a good cigar. The 
fact is, Graham, after little Ernest came "— 
his boy—" I made up my mind to begin a 
special bank account for him by denying 
myself something. So I determined that 
It should be smoking, which did me no real 
good and cost a lot, for I cared only for the 



242 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



best cigars. I found it was costing me on 
an average over a dollar a day for tobacco. 
So ever since I have placed $30 a month 
to the young man's credit in the savings 
bank. In five years, with compound in- 
terest and a little extra change, it has 
amounted to nearly |i2,ooa When he is 
twenty-one it will be the nucleus of a for- 
tune. Try it, Graham, it's much better 
than smoking." 

I suggested that I had no son to make it 
an object. " Well, you may have," was the 
reply, "and even if you don't you may be 
glad some day you've got the money." 

I fancy that perhaps he was thinking of 
the rumors that have placed you in a par- 
ticularly splintery corner on November 
lard. But I thought of what he said sev- 
eral times and the next day, after trying in 
vain to smoke a cigar that I found in your 
desk, I decided to relegate smoking to the 
list of my banished small vices. That was 
a week ago last Thursday. Last Friday, 
day before yesterday, I met Pennypacker 
in the Palmer House cafd 

" Hello, Fred," I said, " I want to tell you 
something. I've followed your advice." 

" Advice ? What advice ? " he asked. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 243 

"Why, to quit smoking and save the 
money." 

"Did I tell you that?" he asked ner- 
vously, as he fumbled in his breast-pocket 

"Certainly. You told me about little 
Ernest and — why, what are you doing?" 
He had pulled a case from his pocket and 
was bitmg off a cigar. " I thought you -" 

"Didn't smoke, eh? Well, I didn't till 
yesterday, when that blasted savings bank 
suspended." 

I resumed smoking Friday. In fact 
Pennypacker and I had a regular smoke 
talk. I've decided that if ever I save 
money it will not be by small personal 
economies. I've made up my mind that, 
as a general rule, economy is only a species 
of self-deception. The man who walks 
two or three miles to save car-fare gets the 
exercise as a bonus, but what sense is there 
m using postal cards to save postage and 
then sending telegrams to hurry up the 
answer? There was a fellow in college 
whose mania was to save shoestrings. He 
thought they ought to wear as long as the 
shoes and sooner than indulge in the lavish 
expenditure of a nickel for a new pair he'd 
cover his feet all over with knots and 



244 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



blacken up twine with ink. Yet when this 
chap wanted a cuspidor, nothing but an 
$i8 majolica affair would satisfy him. 

The man who makes his money by slow 
savings seldom knows when he's got 
enough, and even if he finds out he never 
knows how to let down the bars so that he 
can enjoy it. Habit is a stern taskmaster 
and I have no wish to degenerate into a 
miser. There is, of course, a mean between 
a spendthrift and a miser, but the difficulty 
is in determining where it is located. 

If I seem prolix on this subject it is be- 
cause I find that my $50 salary and that of the 
late Manager Welch combined, seem to go 
no farther than did the eight per with which 
I started my tumultuous business career. 
If a man has one dollar a week clear he is 
seldom likely to have very expensive tastes, 
but give him a few hundred a year more 
than demanded for the absolute necessities 
of life and he forthwith becomes a plutocrat 
in his longings, This may be back-handed 
philosophy, but 's pretty straight goods 
so far as the majority of the rising genera- 
tion are concerned. But I am infringing, 
dear father, on your chosen prerogative. 
Let me change the subject 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 345 

Why is it that life on the road as a drum- 
mer seems to mark a man for life ? Every 
time I meet a commercial traveller in a 
hotel he invariably fires at me, " What line 
are you in?" I have changed my tailor 
three times and have repeatedly altered my 
style of dress, but still they seem to rec- 
ognize me as one of them. Can I never 
shake off the ear-marks of the road ? I am 
thinking seriously of taking a course with 
a professor of deportment, for perhaps it is 
my manner. I am more inclined to think 
it due to daily association with Milligan. 

The drummer's stock query, " What line 
are you in?" is natural enough, but it gets 
to be a bore after a time. Job Withers 
tells a story that illustrates how it may an- 
noy some people. It also illustrates how 
smart Job Withers is, which Job's stories 
usually do. One day, in the train, he says, 
he sat beside a rather striking-looking man 
who, he afterward learned, is a professor in 
ChK-ago University. Job tried to start up 
conversation, but with little encourage- 
ment. 

" Fine day," he ventured. 
" Well, yes, " said the stranger. 
" Pretty good crops." 
" Fair." 



S4fi LETTERS FROM A SON 

" Think well have a shower? " 

• Don't know." 

Job didn't give up, but all his questions 
begot monosyllables. Somewhat nettled, 
he said at last, " What line are j ou in ? " 

" Brains," said the professor, laconically. 

" Umph I " said Job, " lucky, isn't it, that 
you don't have to carry any samples ? " 

I'm glad your gout is better, father, it 
will not pain you so much when I try to — 
but I know you hate slang. 

Your rising son, 

P. 

P. S. Milligan talks a good deal about 
me around the office. He said this after- 
noon he expected that some day I'd dis- 
charge him. Thus do coming events cast 
their shadows before. 



LETTER NO. XVIII. 



LETTER No. XVIII. 

How an Elder's conscience was amused at a chunk 

fair, Ihe folly of telling a wife the truth, 

are among Pierrepont's topics. 

Chicago, Nov. a, 189— 
Dear Fathtr: 

I am sending this letter to you, special 
delivery, care of the N .-u- Vork branch 
that you may feel tint y..., an- welcomed 
home. Although y>.a hru.. been abroad 
but a few weeks, ' !;iiaw th-,' vou will be 
glad to set foot ( ;> \., , ,;, up soil once 
more. I wish I auid L. ■„ T: to meet 
you and help sing'Th, be r Spangled" 
but I want to stay here a..ci !■ .c-p an eye ok 
Mil igan. In my absence he would be very 
likely to try and queer my record. 

It's a great pleasure to find from your 
last that you don't give a rag for the bulls 
on pork, because when I heard that they 
were going to have your heart's blood and 
make you squeal louder than any hog you 
ever assassinated, it just naturally made me 
feel a bit uneasy. I don't want to see the 



350 



LKTTERS FROM A SON 



Graham money go flying on flyers, and 
ever since you showed me the error of my 
ways in dabbling in the Open Board, I 
thought that you, too, must have reformed. 
However, if you have got the bulls by 
their tails and can twist 'em till the critters 
bellow again, I'll forgive your little lapse 
from righteousness. 

But, somehow, I can't help thinking of 
old Elder Blivins, of the little New Hamp- 
shire town where we used to go summers 
before you got very rich. You remember 
the Elder,— a tall, thin man, with a con- 
c ;i ;nce as highly developed as dyspepsia. 
Well, one Sunday he preached a mighty 
powerful sermon on gambling, and the 
way he did sock it at the sinners made my 
young blood run cold. There happened 
to be several summer visitors in his congre- 
gation that day, among 'em Colonel Porter, 
a big stock-broker of Boston, but th^ only 
inflamed the Elder all the more. He de- 
clared that the stock market was run by 
the devil in person, and that every man 
who took part in those hideous games of 
chance was predestinedly and teetotally 
damned. It was a scorcher, and the dea- 
cons congratulated him so heartily after 



TO A SELF-MADE FATHER. 



251 



the service that he naturally looked for a 
fifty-dollar raise in his salary, which was 
just then running more to potatoes than 
his needs seem to warrant Colonel Porter 
looked a little hot under the frying, but he 
didn't make a fool of himself by going out 
About the middle of the week the 
church had a Grand Fair and Sale for the 
purpose of raising funds to mend the chim- 
ney. There were candy tables, flower 
tables, and knit-goods tables; kissing 
booths, lemonade stands, cider stands, and 
coffee stands. But the crowds were always 
around the grab-bag and the place where 
tickets were sold for the "grand drawing" 
of a piece of Rogers statuary, representing 
two old codgers at a heartbreaking game 
of checkers. 

Colonel Porter was on hand as chipper 
as a lark, spending money like a hero and 
earning the blessings of all the ladies. He 
kept away from the grab-bag until he saw 
Elder Blivins standing by, and then he 
sailed up. He allowed that he wanted the 
gold ring that was said to be in the biig, 
and he paid his money and took a draw. 
He got a birchbark napkin ring tied with 
a yellow ribbon. 



252 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



" Pshaw, Elder," said the colonel, look- 
ing old Blivins right in the eye, " this is a 
hideous game of chance." 

The Elder blinked a moment, as if he 
were trying to think of something, but he 
never yipped. 

" Come on, Elder," said the colonel heart- 
ily. " I want that Rogers group the worst 
way. One of the old bucks looks just like 
my grandfather used to when grandmother 
wigged him. I'm willing to gamble good 
and hard for that group. I'll take — " 

" Put up your filthy lucre, sir!" shouted 
the Elder. "The devil don't run this 
church, and there isn't going to be any 
drawing." So saying, he knocked off one 
of the heads of the Rogers group with his 
cane, kicked the grab-bag down the cellar 
door, ordered the crowd to vamoose, put 
out the lamps, and locked up the vestry. 
Then he disappeared from public view 
until the following Sunday, when he 
preached his memorable discourse on the 
text, " Let him that standeth take heed lest 
he fall." And they do say that Colonel 
Porter put a century-run dollar bill into the 
contribution box that day to make up for 
the loss the fair sustained through his little 
joke on the parson. 



:PHHR/^ii?^'S-. 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



253 



I 



I simply mention this story of the Elder 
as an example of how a man's conscience 
for other folks may be extraordinarily 
active, while that section reserved for him- 
self may be sound asleep. And some 
graceless individual generally holds the 
alarm clock. 

In commenting on the Elder's sudden 
change of heart, Colonel Porter admitted 
that he was pretty hard on the old chap. 
" But if he was ever to reform it was time he 
began," he said. "Some people seem to 
think that it's never too late to reform or" 
— softly — " or to become a lawyer." This 
meant a story, for the colonel never 
chuckled except when he felt anecdotal. 

"Speaking of lawyers," mused the col- 
onel, "there's a man in Boston who's done 
more things, it seems to me, than any one I 
ever knew. He has run stores of all sorts, 
has been a real estate agent, a promoter, a 
journalist, a fiddler in an orchestra, and 
tuba in a band. A few years ago he 
opened a fish market in the winter, sold it 
out two days before Lent and went into 
the cultivation of strawberries. He :ouldn't 
be content long enough to make a suc- 
cess of anything. He didn't stick at any- 



i*liA'!iL',hMM'M'£ 









2S4 



LETTERS FROM. A SON 



thing long enough to even lose money 
at it, to say nothing of making it. One 
day I met him near the Court House, 
hurrying along with an earnest, wrapt look 
in his eyes. I knew at once that he had a 
new call of duty, for he always began like a 
steam engine. 

"'Hulloa, Caldwell,"! said, 'what you 
upto?' 

Got to hurry to court,' he answered. 

" ' What's up,' I asked, 'not in trouble, I 
hope?' 

" ' No, indeed,' he said. ' But perhaps 
you haven't heard. I'm in new business.' 

" ' Indeed I ' I said, with as great a show 
of interest as I could command in a man 
whom I never met without learning of a 
change of calling. ' What now ? ' 

Oh, I'm an expert,' he said, proudly. 

" My face must have expressed interroga- 
tion, for he hastened to explain. ' An ex- 
pert for legal cases, you know.' 

"' In what line ?' I ventured. 

Oh, anything,' he replied. In view of 
his record I was free to admit mentally that 
his experience was no better in any one 
thing than in any of the others. A month 
or so later I was riding in an open car with 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



255 



a friend of Caldwell's, when we passed that 
chameleon. He had a blue bag under his 
arm and looked happy. 

" ' There's Caldwell,' I remarked. ' Won- 
der how he is doing as an expert witness?' 
Oh, he gave that up several weeks ago,' 
retorted my companion. ' His court at- 
tendance gave him a new inspiration. He's 
studying law now.' 

"'Studying law!' I cried, in amazement. 
' Studying law at 65 ? The idiot I ' 

'"I don't know about that,' said my 
friend. ' He may not be such a fool as he 
looks. I was surprised when he told me 
that he was going to try the bar examina- 
tion next spring, and expressed it. He 
smiled significantly and said he guessed 
he'd get through all right. ' You see,' he 
said, ' my wife's word is law, and she's been 
laying it down to me for thirty years.'" 

" Hence," said the colonel, " it's never too 
late for some men to reform — to desert or 
to take to the bar." 

I'm sure I have no desire to be a hum- 
ming bird in life, to flit from flower to 
flower; but I shall not be sorry if some day 
a stentorian call comes to me to forsake the 
pork industiy. I am not much of a farmer, 



J56 



LEITERS FROM A SON 



but I'm cock sure you can't make cider out 
of dried apples, and as far as taste for the 
business of selling pig is concerned, I'm 
threaded on a string from the rafters. I 
really think it's time that the family name 
was taken out of trade. Where would the 
"four hundred" be if the Astors and 
Vanderbilts and the rest of the aristocracy 
had stuck to the business that made them 
rich? It's actually indecent for the wealthy 
to parade the source of their prosperity to 
the populace. 

May I venture a suggestion ? Why not 
capitalize the Graham plant ? You can do 
this at a figure about four times its worth, 
sell almost half of the stock, keep the rest 
and own the plant after all is done. If this 
isn't kicking the gizzard out of the old prov- 
erb that you can't eat your cake and have 
it too, I'm a Dutchman. Besides, when 
you are an incorporated company, or in a 
merger, you're respectable. The grease 
don't come off dividend checks. Then if, 
as a clincher, you give away some of your 
surplus to educational institutions, you've 
headed your family along the highway 
which leads to seeing your name in another 
part of the newspapers than the court cal- 
endar. 



M^9S&:, 



TO HIS SEU-MADE FATHER. 257 

You certainly owe something to your 
descendants, for upon them depends the 
future of your own reputation. The orig- 
inal money grabber of a great family may 
have dug clams and robbed widows and 
orphans, but his memory swells into gigan- 
tic proportions when his multi-millionaire 
great-grandchildren know that he is so 
generally forgotten as to be talked about 
with impunity. You may not take kindly 
to this, but mother has social aspirations. 
She will probably never get any farther, 
personally, than an extremely pink tea, but 
she would be encouraged if she had some 
hope erf being pointed to in her portrait as 
the grandmother of people to whom trade 
will be only a despised heirloom, to be 
stored in the garret with the haircloth 
sofa. 

I presume that you are to stay at the 
Waldorf-Astoria while you linger in New 
York. Let me, as a dutiful son, give you 
a tip as to your bearing in that hostelry. 
Don't let on that you are a pork packer 
from Chicago, if you value the contents of 
your pocketbook. They'll skin you, dress 
you and salt you while you wait, if they find 
out your profession. And don't tell the 



358 LETTERS FROM A SON 

dtrtt Aat you're the father of Pierrepont 
Gr»ham who stopped at his hotel for 
awhile, a little over a year ago. I believe 
there's still a little something due for 
extras from that visit of mine, and I am 
considerate enough not to want to get you 
into any muss about that robber baron 
bill. 

You are somewhat of a stranger in New 
York, and I want to caution you against 
travelling around town exposing your mas- 
sive gold chain with the hog watch-charm 
you affect. Somehow a sucker is viewed 
by the amount of yellow metal he displays 
on his vest, and I don't want to hear that 
you have been treated to knock-out drops 
or tapped on the cranium with a sandbag, 
just because you look like a guy with an 
inflated wallet. All I ask of you is, that 
you get back safe to Chicago to straighten 
out the business. Since I have assumed 
control of the lard department there have 
been two strikes and one lock-out in our 
branch of the business, and I don't know 
whether to close down the department al- 
together or to raise everybody's wages and 
make it up on the quality of the lard. Even 
Ma is beginning to kick, for she says she 



TO HIS SKLF-MADE FATHER. 359 

has a life interest in the business and she 
can't see why your rheumatism should be 
allowed to cut her dividends in two. I 
read her your excellent advice as to the sin 
of worrying, but it had no effect on her. 
She says that any woman who has a galli- 
vanting husband and a fool son has the right 
to worry, and that she will keep right at it 
until you drive up to the door, when she 
will give you a welcome home that you will 
remember. Perhaps you had better come 
in by the back entrance and let her dis- 
cover you in bed suffering the tortures of 
the damned, as they say in novels. Noth- 
ing disarms a woman like a man keeled 
over by disease. 

In any event, don't tell her the truth 
about your European trip and -ts little 
enjoyments. If you do, you moy hive 
something like the experieu'-c of Ile.iry 
Bagshot. As you, I have reason n.i be- 
lieve, know, Bagshot is an habLaal pr-ko. 
player— one of the kind who'd '-iher si, 
up all night saying, " that's good," than 
make fifty thousand by a coup on th , Ey- 
change. In twenty-seven years of marriec 
life, it seems he has concealed from Mrs. B. 
his feverish anxiety to draw one card for 



360 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



the middle, and has always had some good 
excuse for his late sessions. But about a 
month ago he had a bad attac '< with his 
heart and the doctor who pulled him 
through warned him that life was not 
eternal in his case any more than with the 
rest of us. 

It gave Bagshot a creepy feeling to see the 
" Gates Ajar," and for a couple of weeks, 
when his' fingers itched for the chips, he 
let it go at scratching. When he fell the re 
was a terrible thud and it was 4 a. m. whci 
he crawled into the family mansion. Mrs. 
B. was sitting up. She had feared the worst. 
A compunction of conscience, due to the 
graveyard suggestion of his medical ad- 
visor, struck Bagshot when the lady of his 
choice propounded the usual conundrum 
and he weakened. His carefully prepared 
explanation stuck in his throat and he 
blurted out : " Very sorry, my dear, but the 
factislgot into a game of poker at the club 
and — and I won eighty-five. Here they 
are, buy yourself something." And he 
dropped the greenbacks into Mrs. B's lap. 

Then there was a scene. She didn't be- 
lieve him and could not be induced to do ■ 
so. " Henry Bagshot," she cried, " in twenty- 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHLR. a6l 

seven years you've never stayed away from 
home to play poker. It was not cards, but 
siome awful hussy!" and she had hysterics 
till daylight and it cost iJagshot $2,500 for 
a new brougham and a span of horses be- 
fore he could get away to breakfast. What- 
ever happens, no husband should tell the 
truth to his wife. Either she'd not believe 
him or the shock would kill her. 
Your cautious son, 

Pierre PONT. 

P. S. I wrote George D.-imon congratu- 
lations on his marriage to Ve. bena Philpot, 
the girl, you remember, whose father in- 
sisted that I should be his son-in law. The 
letter evidently followed him to Europe 
where the happy couple appear to have 
gone, for the other day I received this 
cablegram : " Letter received. Congratu- 
lations belong to you," 



MlOOCOrV HESOIUTION TEST CHAIT 

(ANSr and ISO TEST CHART No. 2) 




123 
13.2 



■f |3£ 



zs 

2.2 

^ ik 

1.8 



mmt^ 



A /APPLIED IM/GE Ine 

^i 1653 East Main Street 

TS nochesler, New York U609 US« 

j:g (716) *B2 - 0300 - Phone 

^S (7'6) 2B8 - 5989 - Fox 



LETTER NO. XIX. 



LETTER No. XIX. 

Pierrepont tells the governor "what's what" 

about Helen Heath and cites an example of 

matrimonial felicity secured by peculiar 

methods pursued by the husband. 

Chicago, Nov. 7, 189 — 
Dear Father : 

You want to know who's Helen Heath 
and what's what about her. Well, sir, I 
can tell you right off the reel that she's the 
dearest girl on earth, and that she has 
promised to be my life antidote against 
the hog trade. She's the daughter of old 
General Heath, who hasn't a red cent to 
his name, and she hasn't a prospect in the 
world oil .han that of being your daugh- 
*r-in.!aw, which is about as near to a set- 
tled fact as anything this side of heaven. 
That's who she is and that's what's what. 

But wAat she is, I can't begin to tell you, 
and I don't believe you'd care to read it if 
I did. I find that a year and a half in 
Graham & Co. has sadly dulled my once 



366 



LFTTERS FROM A SON 



radiant and classic vocabulary, and that 
the things I want to say about Helen keep 
getting tainted with the aroma of the try- 
ing-out vats and the smell of gloomy, gray 
sausages. It's no i father, love and 
pork packing never did go together and 
never will. And you probably know with- 
out my telling you one article of food that 
will never appear on my Helen's table. 

But of course you do not need any rhap- 
sody from me, for you know Helen already, 
and you admit that she's a peach, which is 
a pretty extreme thing for a man of your 
strength of mind to do. You say she 
treated you like a father on the voyage 
home. She had her cue, and I'm glad to 
find that our little game worked. Of course 
I wrote to London, where she has been 
staying for a month or two, giving her a tip 
on the steamer you were to take. I knew 
that if I broached the subject of Helen to 
you in the regular, orthodox way, you would 
fly into a tantrum and swear that no son 
of yours should ever marry the daughter of 
a penniless old lush like the general, no 
matter how sweet and worthy she herself 
might be. So I told Helen to get next you 
in a casual way, sparing no sugar in the 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 267 

fu^,^*^u f ■■?" *''^* y°" ''ay' I should 
think she had used molasses instead, and 
If a man could reasonably be jealous of his 
own father, you'd certainly be the Cassio 
of our httle play. 

Your observation that love in a flat with 
fifty a. week isn't very bad, is interesting 
and no doubt true, but it's open to correc 
tion. Suppose we amend it by substitut- 
ing the words "seventy-five" for "fifty" 
and then pass it without a dissenting vote. 
And the house gives notice that the gov- 
ernor need not object, because we shall 
certainly pass the bill over his head if he 
does. 

Of course, as you say, a wife doubles a 
mans expenses, but she doesn't begin to 
increase them as a "best girl" does. I 
think that's why a good many men marry 
young, especially those with a provident 
streak in them. They want to get to sav- 
ing money as soon as possible ; flowers and 
candy and books and theatres and car- 
nages and suppers are pretty apt to aver- 
age more than rent, frugal board and 
modest clothes. Of course, my wife is 
going to bok decent, but there are a few 
things around which I am going to draw a 



268 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



li^ 



good strong line. I shall lay down the 
proposition that a woman's hat ought not 
to cost more than four times what I pay 
for mine, which lasts a good deal longer. 
However, I believe Helen has a knack 
toward millinery which it will be well to 
encourage. If you tell your wife she's 
artistic, she'll work her fingers off to prove 
it to you. 

1 have some very decided leas on the 
conduct of the matrimonial partnership, 
and I propose to see that they are carried 
into effect I do not mean to be a marti- 
net, but I've kept my eyes open at home 
and abroad — especially at home — and I 
think I can say without egotism that I 
know a thing or two about married life. 
There is always an easy way for a man to 
be master in his own house. Although 
Dame Nature has not given me the same 
physical handicap as Homer Aristotle 
Eaton, the stockbroker, I fancy there is 
a good tip in his methods of home rule. 
Eaton, as you know, is a very little man, 
and, by one of the freaks ot Cupid, he is 
married to a particularly fine specimen of 
the genus Amazon. Indeed, when they gt 
out driving together, their outfit looks like 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER 



369 



( 



one of those newspaper puzzle pictures: 
" find the missing man," you know. 

But although Mrs. E. is a masterful sort 
of wonian, whose look would seem enough 
to annihilate the remaining sixteenth of 
their domestic unit, it is common knowl- 
edge that Homer Aristotle Eaton is the 
boss of his family ward. I used to think 
that this might be awe of the portentous 
name with which his parents cursed him, 
but his junior partner, Giles Corey, let the 
Angora out of the suit case the other night 
at a heart party — one of those affairs where 
hearts are the souvenirs and the play is to 
get at few of them as possible. 

" Yes," said Giles, in a pause for refresh- 
ments, "Eaton's high card in hi^ deck. 
He's pretty fussy and wants things his 
own way. And he's had them so for his 
eleven years of married life. 

"With that queenly woman ! " cried one 
of the party. 

"She could annihilate him with a look," 
aaid another. 

"Ah, that's just it," was Giles' reply. 
"He don't give her a chance. You see, 
fellows, it's this way. The first time, years 
ago, that there was a difference between 



ayo 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



f 



them, Eaton dropper' the subject and came 
down town. Two or three hours later he 
called Mrs. E. on the 'phone. He was in 
the booth fully three-quarters of an hour 
and when he came out his face was as red 
as a boiled lobster. But, as I happen to 
know, he won his point. It was about in- 
viting a certain man and his wife to dinner. 
Mrs. Eaton objected because they were not 
in her set Eaton wanted them because 
the man was nibbling at his bait in a big 
deal. They went to the dinner." 

As there were several married men in 
the gathering, Corey was bombarded with 
questions as to his partner's secret. At 
last he said: "Well, I'll tell you, if you'll 
neve.- quote me as your authority." 

As you, father, can be depended upon 
for secrecy, I am not violati.ig confidence. 

" You see," said Corey, " Homer has a big 
bass voice and he coulu argue the Sphynx 
out of the sand or a New Yorker out of his 
conceit The combination of voice and 
argument is irresistible — through the tele- 
phone — and Mrs. Eaton always wilts when 
he's held the line for a few minutes. Meek 
as Moses at home, he's a tyrant over his 
private wire. I honestly think that he has 



TO HIS SELF MADE FATHER. 



271 



|i 



f, 



Mrs. E. hypnotized a.id that the sound of 
his ring puts her in a receptive mood. 
Homer confessed as much to me one day 
when he said, 'Giles, my boy, th» puny 
little man with a bass voice finds h.s best 
friend in the telephone.'" 

Although I am not in the light-weight 
class, and favor in voice Jean rather than 
Edouard d»: Reszke, I think I can see a 
vali'ablt suggestion in the Homer-Aris- 
totle-Eaion method. An argument con- 
ducted from a distance certainly cannot 
end in woman's last resource and most 
potent argument — tears. I trust you -vill 
not fancy that I anticipate any domestic 
infelicity. I am only following your rule 
of being well prepared for all emergencies. 
I certainly intend to be a kind, loving, 
and— within my rights —pliable husband. 
Helen is a sweet-natured girl, but I don't 
expect her to be all sugar-cane and molas- 
ses. She'll scarcely equal in ; omplacence 
the wife of a few very unhappy yeaj^, who, 
when her friends advised her to leave the 
husband who negiocted ano' abused her, 
«tood up in his defence and insisted that 
he was far kinder than they thought. 

' Vhy," she said, "it was cn'y a few 



373 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



months ago that he celebrated the anni- 
versary of our marriage — our wooden 
wedding." 

This was too much for her sister, who 
had spent several weeks with her at the 
time, to stand. "Wooden wedding, in- 
deed I " she cried ; " the only wooden wed- 
ding you had was when your brute of a 
husband came home and knocked you down 
with a chair I" 

It is surprising what a different thing 
the world becomes when a fellow is in love. 
I don't want to be a silly ass just because 
the prettiest, dearest giri on the footstool 
said "yes" instead of the "no" I really de- 
served, but I must tell somebody how 
happy I am. If I had money enough and 
was a sort of czar at whom people cc .Id . t 
laugh without arrest for lese majesie, I'd 
have all the church bells rung, fire salutes 
on the lake front and send up balloons with 
Helen's name on 'em in twenty-seven foot 
letters. Until I met Helen Heath I thought 
I should never marry; in fact, I considered 
myself immune. But I hadn't seen her 
three times before she had me under her 
thumb, and the minute a girl has a fellow 
there, he, strangely enough, wants her hand. 



TO HIS S^-.F-MAF^E FATHER. 273 

And I'm to have it and her heart vith it, 
and she — well, she's to have me and the 
fifty per that you dole out to me. Occa- 
sionally I have the blues, dec '\re that I'm 
not fit for her and feel as I felt on the road 
when I finally buncoed some confiding 
grocer to order a bil' of our goods. 

I'm in a pretty t .gh dilemma, anyway, 
and unless you help me out I'll have diffi. 
culty in keeping my footing. When a fel- 
low's head over heels in love and up to his 
ears in debt, it's certainly timf for some- 
body to throw him a life-pres' er. You, 
my dear father, can knock the cork jackets 
off all the coastguards in the service in this 
particular branch cf the life-saving busi- 
ness, bv just getting your fountain pen busy 
over a check-book. And how you would 
be repaid 1 We — and ours — would bless 
you far down the thundering ages. Think 
it over and cut your Boston visit short. I'm 
afraid for you in the Hub, anyway. You 
are very likely to get into trouble. Do you 
know, for instance, that it is believed by 
the best Boston families that capital pun- 
ishment is a very light penalty for commit- 
ting a solecism ? Pray be careful. I do 
not wish to inherit through a tragedy. 



274 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



You will find me more serious than I 
used to be. Perhaps this is due in part to 
my realization of the responsibility that I 
am about to assume in the way of a father- 
inJaw. General Heath is very friendly — 
indeed, I may say that we are on a very 
intimate understanding. I have already 
grown to know him so well that I am 
usually able to anticipate his wishes — that 
is, when I have the price. I confess it is 
hard work to a£Fect an interest in the story 
of the only battle in which he appears to 
have participated, on hearing it for the 
fourteenth time. But every rose has its 
thorn, »id Helen Heath has the General. 
I have a friend or two at Washington, and, 
as you have several more, perhaps between 
us we shall be able to prove to him that 
republics are not always ungrateful. I 
think a South American or Pacific Island 
consulate would express the nation's grati- 
tude with agreeable significance. 

When I put a plain gold ring under the 
diamond that I gave Helen — and which, 
I ngKt to say, is not yet paid for — I do 
not propose to marry her distinguished but 
slightly disheveled pater. The constant 
recital of that battle story might not de- 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 



275 



stroy domestic felicity, but it would cer- 
tainly give it an unsettled feeling. You 
might send him on the road if the govern- 
ment proves unmindful of its debt to him. 
He is fond of travelling, and he could 
scarcely sell less goods than I did. 

Of course, I'm glad you think Helen 
'pretty and nice, but now that you know 
my intentions I shall rely upon your sense 
of good taste and the fitness of things to 
moderate your raptures. I agree with you 
that there is nothing in the theory that 
two can live cheaper than one. I wouldn't 
have one— that is, the one — live on what 
I have been receiving since I accepted a 
position with your house. I intend that 
my wife shall feel that she is the real thing. 
While there are many signs to prove that 
Helen is not extravagant — thanks to the 
General, she's had no practice — she must 
not be pointed out on the street as your 
daughter-in-law and comments made in this 
vein : " How can that rich John Graham 
let her dress like that or live so I " 

You will not allow that, I know, for, with 
all your abstruse theories about economy 
and self-help, you'll appreciate that it is 
due to you to see to it that your only 



276 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



daughter is a credit to you. It would be a 
pretty bad advertisement for the business 
to have a dowdy daughter-in-law living in 
a dowdy neighborhood, now wouldn't it ? 
And if we must be identified with the pork 
industry, there should be compensation. 
But we can discuss these things better 
when we are face to face. 

Your enamoured son, 

Pierrepont. 

P. S. I'm so happy and at peace with 
all the world that if I thought it would 
please him I'd invite Milligan to be my 
best man. 



LETTER No. XX. 

Pierrepones philosophy on matrimony is somewhat 

colored by the fad that he is a Benedict and 

U is evident that henceforih he wiU 

6« tco busy to write Utters. 

Chicago, Nov. i., i8o_ 
Dear Father: 

The seventy-five dollars a week that you 
promised me in yours of the nth inst 
are already mine, for there isn't any Helen 
Heatn now. There is a Mrs. Pierrepont 
Graham, whose first name is Helen, and I 
guess you'll find her pretty nearly the 
same young woman who took you into 
camp so neatly on the voyage to New 
York. She reached Chicago Tive days ago, 
and her glowing reports about your sub- 
jugation, backed up by your promise to 
raise me to seventy-five on the day I mar- 
ned Helen Heath, decided us to plunge 
mto the sea of matrimony before we 
stopped to find whether the water was cold 
or not. It wasn't, as it happened; but 
thats another a£Fair. 



38o 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



Our wedding was a quiet affair =.n^ 
our iS at rhS ! ^" """ i««"e«ad 

>0 tad U,a,,h= rid boy i, highly pTi:^ 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. jgl 

by my alliance with his noble familv H« 
cracked a joke to the effect hat his «M f 
the house had the blood a^d S^Xtk' 
and that the combination would be irresS 
ble; but was too much absorbed nmv 
own happmess just then to feel hurt Se 

homfast'h"? "'^^^y- were ?om"g 
nome, as he had a very important businP« 

rd r L^7°"/° ^°" If I wtfy^u 

for the sake of H.'" \'^'^''' ^^°"«^"d 

J f , Helen, who is a dear «rl 

and takes after her mother *^ ' 

a trial! 3 Is; had^-tTe"'"^*'^'"! '' 
sensible,irl.shethatl'clt3to^ 
the house a single night. MacutupbadW 
because there had been no bridesmaKr 
weddmg-cake. and when I quoted your en 
dorsement of a speedy marriage she saTd 
you were an old fool, who. if you Zd 
stopped to think, would probably never 
have got married yourself. I couldn't lust 
r r''?^'-!,*''VO'"PHmented heielf Je^ 

t"e erl nt h"' } ^'^'''' '^ *° ^^ow "2 
bntllT ^^' '°8^'*= "St then. I just 

steer lo''/.;:'* ^^' ^'^ ^ tremendous 
steer about the romance that must be in 

her nature, although perhaps long dor- 



383 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



njant from the force of circumstances. 
This veiled allusion to you mollified Ma a 
good deal, and pretty soon she calmed 
down completely and asked us to come 
m and stay as long as we liked. 

We made a very merry little party after 
all. Ma sent out to a caterer's for a good 
spread and produced some champagne in 
some mysterious manner — I'd no idea 
there ws any in the house. Pretty soon 
the General turned up and Ma was wonder- 
fully cordial. She even brought him a 
bottle of your 1830 Private Stock, aid the 
way stock went down would have tickled 
the bears on 'Change half to death. The 
General was good enough to say, before we 
escorted him to his chamber, that your 
taste in such things was impeccable— that 
was his very word, "impeccable, sir." I 
can't refrain from telling you that he made 
a deep impression on Ma, and I think if I 
were you I wouldn't linger in Boston too 
long. 

Do you know that your last letter, so full 
of philosophy as applied to matrimony, has 
set me to wondering what has m^e you 
such an expert on wives. You talk of 
nagging women, and sulky women, and 



4 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 283 

violent women, quite as if by the book 
VVhere your vast experience insuch matters 
has come from I can't quite maice out. At 
any rate I want it distinctly understood 
S 'V,'"'!**" t be taken as reflecting on 
Ma. Ma is now ace high with Mr. and 
Mrs. Pierrepont Graham, having proven 
herself a troe thoroughbred. She has 
cleaned the house entirely of Graham food 

f^^^lf'r^^l^'"^ ^^^"^ *" *° tl^e Home 
tor Half Orphans, has hired a decent cook 

in place of your Scandinavian horror, and 
allows that she likes the smell of cigare in 
the drawmg-room. From this on, my vote 
IS for Ma, no matter what office she may 
run for. ' 

I may mention in passing that Ma said 
a rather cunous thing the other day, which 
you may be able to explain. I had made 
somefoohsh remark about getting a divon:e 
because of something Helen had said, and 
Ma reproved me for it. I laughed and said 
•oke» ^^^"^ "^^^^ <=°"'*1 take a 

This evidently displeased Ma, for she 
replied, "You seem to have forgotterj 
"5""eP0"t. that I married your father" 

Women are. queer creatures, anyhow. 



384 ij:tters from a son 

You are everlastingly right, father, in what 
you say about the undesirability of having 
them in places of business. I took Helen 
to the packing house to-day, intending to 
show her through the establishment. But 
one glance at the luckless hogs "travelling 
into dry salt at the rate of one a mini-te," 
as you once so poetically expressed it, 
drove all idea of further investigation out 
of her pretty head. She said she'd take 
for granted all the wonderful facts of sau- 
sage and lard, and proposed lunch at the 
Palmer House instead. So you see, my 
little experiment took some valuable time 
out of the house. Helen goes further than 
either of us in .his distaste for women in 
business and says she doesn't think we 
ought to have girl typewriters. That was 
after she caught sight of mine, who isn't 
the worst ever, as you know. 

But, so far, I am pleased to state, the 
honeymoon has not waned an atom. We 
are keeping pretty close to the house, for 
what a shock it would be to society if they 
knew we had been married without hustling 
off on a wedding tour. The bridal trip 
business has always struck me as non- 
sensical. The way people act after the 



I 



lO HIS SELF-UADE FATHER. 



aSS 



minister gives the word, you would think 
that they hated the place \ ,cre they deter- 
mined upon the irrevocable step. After 
you get home and certain matters are ad- 
ju^'.cJ, I think I would like to go to Europe. 
You see, Helen has been there and no man 
likes to be at a disadvantage with his wife. 
You may feel more friendly towards this 
foreign tour when I tell you that since 
Helen forsook her native Heath she has 
become very confidential with me and has 
told m » some of the particulars of her first 
me-ting with you. I ju^t naturally am 
pleased with the details, for it is extremely 
gratifying to a man to feel that his father 
corroborates his good taste in the selection 
of the girl of his choice. It is certainly 
most creditable to the largeness of your 
paternal heart that you should have paid 
her so much attention in the first few days 
out of Liverpool. It was a great courtesy 
for you to arrange her tray for her on deck 
and to relieve her of the necessity of feeing 
the stewards. 

Equally kind was your aid in adjusting 
her wrap on the windy afternoon that you 
sat alone with her in the lee of the smoke- 
stack. But it was unfortunate, was it not, 



386 



LITTKRS ritOM A SON 



that your forgretfulness in not withdrawing 
your arm from the back of her steamer 
chair was called to your attention by 
Helen's chance remark that she was ac 
quainted with me? Mother has never 
been abroad, so I have not told her of your 
galla try to your fellow-passenger. She 
migl. lot understand steamer conventions. 
Helen, p :rhapsi mi^ht mention the matter 
to her casually. If we go abroad, as I sug- 
gest to you, I will ta!:e special pains to 
destroy her entire recollection of the trip 
with you. 

Oh, by the way, it occurs to me to tell 
you that Cy Willoughby — the widower, 
not his brother Seth — has disinherited his 
son Arthur, because he married a type- 
writer. It was not because of the Mesal- 
iance, but it was because it was the/tUkef's 
typewriter that Arthur married. Possibly, 
when I think of Helen, I should have more 
than tie dictates of filial ai->ction as a 
reason for gratitude that Ma did not suc- 
cumb a year ago last winter to pneumonia 
and the six doctors you insisted on having. 
As you so succinctly express it, Helen i.s 
not getting any the best of it in marrying 
me. Her pater may not be very much of a 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 387 

financial proposition, and more of a tx>ttle 
than a battle-scarred warrior, but he can 
talk about his great-grandfather, and that's 
more than you care to do, I fancy. Blood 
may not amount to much, except in race- 
horses, but when you balance things up, 
by and large, neither of the two families 
need to take off their hats to the other. 
I'm glad Helen has a family whose pic- 
tures she's not afraid to show, for it sort of 
evens things up for our money. (I note 
that I have omitted the " y " before " oui," 
but you will understand that it belongs 
there.) 

I gather from your last letter that your 
curiosity is aror'^ed as to how I proposed. 
I did it in person. It happened at a dunce. 
I told Helen the other day that she really 
paved the way for my proposal, but I saw 
by the look on her face that it would not be 
safe to pursue the subject, so I turned it 
off with a jest. You will judge. When it 
came time tc dance the cotillion she said 
she was tired, and that, anyway, she knew a 
better step than any that would be danced. 
So we went out into the hallway and she 
showed m? the step, which was on the stairs, 
and we sat there till the cotillion was over. 



388 



LETTERS FROM A SON 



When we returned to the ballroom she had 
me guessing as to where I would get the 
engagement ring, for though love is blind, 
It's not stone-blind— not if the stone is a 
diamond. 

As for what I said, well, I wouldn't re- 
peat It, even if I remembered it. I guess I 
must have talked a lot of rot I referred 
to It once in a casual way and Helen burst 
out laughing. I recall that she didn't 
laugh at the time. She probably realized 
that laughter is apt to scare away fish. 

I am very happy, for I have discovered 
that your daughter-in-law is not perfect, 
and that makes the inequality between us 
seem a trifle less. She cried yesterday 
and said I was unkind, and all because 
when we were planning the house that I 
have decided you shall build for us, I sug- 
gested that she lay out the clothes^losets 
and have the architect draw his plans 
around them. It is evident that repartee 
IS not always appreciated in the family 
circle. 

I was interrupted yesterday by a call to 
settle a dispute between Helen and Ma, as 
to whether it is good form for a young 



TO HIS SELF-MADE FATHER. 289 

married woman to invite lady friends who 
are strangers to her husband to call infor- 
mally before they have been introduced to 
him. What could I do? I looked wise 
and said it was a grave point. I said I 
would consult the society editor of the 
Laeltes' J/otne /oumai and went out.osten- 
sibly to send a wire to Bok. 

When I returned I found my wife in 
tears — second crop. She had read the 
concluding pages of this letter— justified 
her conduct by the observation that there 
should be no secrets between husband and 
wife. She takes exceptions to what I have 
written you about my proposal. I am fin- 
ishing this letter down town. I am now 
going to 'phone Helen to see if I can come 
home to dinner. 

Your Benedict son, 

Pierrepont 

P.S. You need not consider it neces- 
sary to continue your advisory letters to 
me. I can see that I will receive all the 
advice I need from Mrs. Pierrepont